Lawrence Hayes Case: The Dishonest Parole Board

You’ve heard of Lawrence Hayes. Here’s how he ended up back in jail and in jail originally. In the late 1960s, Lawrence was a member of the popular group, the Black Panthers. Hayes was framed for murder and slapped with a death row sentence. However, in 1974, his sentence was suspended due to not using the death penalty after the 1972 Supreme Court decision. However, Hayes still was forced to serve over 20 years in a New York State Prison.

Since Hayes was released, Hayes has been one of the most active opponents when it comes to the death penalty. Hayes took an extra interest when it came to the case of Darrell Harris. Harris was going to be the first person to receive the death penalty after New York changed their death penalty laws.

Hayes’ spent many, many hours contacting families of the victims of the crime that was committed in hopes that he could sway them to publicly oppose the death penalty in the case of Darrell Harris as well.

While Hayes was on this mission, he ended up having his photo in the Brooklyn newspaper making him one of the biggest, yet most prominent public figures in the ever-growing movement to stop the death penalty in the state of New York.

Black Panther, Lawrence Hayes Case

Unfortunately, Hayes was arrested just three days prior to Darrell Harris trial starting. Harris was unfortunately convicted along with receiving the death penalty. The death penalty that Hayes worked so hard to not allow for Harris.

During the time that Hayes was in prison, he was waiting for a decision from his final and last hearing. This hearing only ended up happening AFTER he was already in prison for three months. However, while he was sitting in a jail cell, Hayes ended up losing everything. He lost his apartment, he lost his job, and even some of the projects he was working on did not see the light of day.

Hayes case took a turn for the better when two New York state parole officers were convicted in August. The two New York state parole officers were convicted of lying under oath in a federal probe along with influence-peddling by the chair of the parole board and the governor’s office.

One of the prole officers pleaded guilty. This officer stated that Brion Travis, the parole board chairman was included in the attempts of the Governor George Pataki’s office to permit early parole to the son of a donor of Pataki’s 1998 campaign.

While the other officer convicted in this crime, Sean McSherry, was the one who helped intervene in revoking parole for Lawrence Hayes’, which ultimately resulted in Hayes being sent back to prison with five years to a life sentence.

Parole Revoked? Execution?

But, how did Lawrence Hayes end up in the slammer the first time? That’s the age-old question? Right?

Back in 1971, Hayes was convicted and given the death penalty for the murder of a police officer, even though Hayes didn’t possess or fired a firearm in this situation.

In 1972, Hayes sentence was reduced from the death penalty down to 20 years to life in prison after the Supreme Court’s decision.

Then some odd years later, Hayes was paroled. When Hayes was paroled, he worked as a community activist in his home Brooklyn neighborhood and even worked as a youth counselor as well.

But then in April of 1998, Hayes parole was revoked. This was just merely a few days after he was on a news conference in Brooklyn speaking out against the death penalty in the Darrell Harris case and just days before the case would have begun.

Despite Hayes never even having any sort of minor infraction on his parole record, Hayes was being accused of missing over 30 meetings with his supervising parole officer.

Finally, in August of 1998, four months after Hayes was arrested and sent back to prison, he had his parole revocation hearing. This hearing included McSherry. McSherry was not even involved in Hayes case other than when he presented a victim impact statement that was dated back from Hayes original 1971 trial. Majority of the time, this type of presentation is not allowed during parole revocation hearings, but the judge presiding over the hearing allowed McSherry to do it.

Hayes appealed this sentence he received at the hearing. He received a five-year sentence thanks to the help of Alex Roth, a Columbia Law School student, and Philip Genty, Roth’s professor.

However, when the parole officers were convicted, the parole board officially responded to Hayes appeal and reduced Hayes sentenced to two years minimum.

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