Assemblymember Luis Sepulveda and State Senator Gustavo Rivera's bill (A5548/S992), also known as the Translation Services bill, passed the New York State Assembly. This bill, which seeks to ensure due process for incarcerated individuals whose first language is not English and who are hearing impaired by providing a certified translator at parole board interviews, passed the Senate last week and has now been sent to Governor Cuomo's desk for signature.
"How can we expect an incarcerated individual to answer questions about their potential release when they are not addressed in a language they understand? The implementation of this common sense measure will grant incarcerated individuals the opportunity to fully understand and participate in their parole board interviews. While this is a simple measure, it is necessary if we are to make the parole process more equal for all New Yorkers, regardless of their origin or disability. I urge Governor Cuomo to join the Legislature in enacting this bill into law," said State Senator Gustavo Rivera.
"Echoing my colleague, state Senator Gustavo Rivera, this Translation Services bill, a result of hearings that I held in the Assembly as chair of the subcommittee on Transitional Services, with testimony from several former parolees, simply makes sense.
As with any due process measure, whether in the courts or before a parole board, the right to a fair hearing, with all the necessary procedures and safeguards, is fundamental - or should be - to the American system of justice," said Assemblymember Luis Sepulveda.
Approximately 35 percent of the incarcerated population in New York State prisons are of either Hispanic origin or foreign born, with many of them not being to fully fluent English. In order to address this reality, this bill will require Department of Correction and Community Supervision's (DOCCS) employees to determine if an incarcerated individual requires an English language interpreter and inform the respective parole board accordingly. In addition, this bill aims to codify into law the existing practice of providing deaf language interpreters for those incarcerated individuals in need of such services.