For Blacks Facing Parole in New York State, Signs of a Broken System

By Michael Winerip, Michael Schwirtz and Robert Gebeloff, The New York Times

Jaimie Davenport and Billy Cassell had their first hearings before the New York State Board of Parole earlier this year. Both were serving a maximum of six years on a burglary conviction, Mr. Cassell for breaking into storage units, Mr. Davenport for stealing cellphones.

The men are in their 30s and told the board that they had struggled for years with substance abuse — Mr. Cassell with drugs, Mr. Davenport with alcohol.

Each had served a prior sentence for theft, and each had done a stretch in solitary confinement for breaking prison rules.

Mr. Cassell was set free. But not Mr. Davenport. The board turned him down, extending his prison term for at least another two years.

For all their similarities, there was a telling difference: Mr. Cassell is white; Mr. Davenport is black.

And in New York, black men going before the parole board are at a marked disadvantage.

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