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NY Gov. Hochul’s Parole Reform Frees Murder Suspect Accused Of Killing Woman While Out On Parole

Rochester, NY – A murder suspect accused of hacking a woman to death with a hatchet while he was out on parole was released from jail Tuesday under New York Governor Kathy Hochul’s new parole reform law.

“Our fellow New Yorkers on parole deserve to reenter society with our support and respect — reincarcerating parolees for technical violations traps them and doesn’t help our communities,” Hochul said in a statement when she signed the “Less is More Act” into law on Sept. 17, according to the New York Post.

The new law bans the state from sending offenders back to prison for “technical violations” of their parole, according to the New York Post.

The governor blew off those violations, arguing that they “do not need to be incarcerated” for testing positive for drugs or alcohol, absconding from parole, violating curfews or various other conditions.

“Parole in this state often becomes a ticket back into jail because of technical violations,” Hochul lamented, according to The New York Times. “Someone was caught with a drink or using a substance or missing an appointment.”

Hochul said these inmates “have served their sentences” for the crimes they committed, the New York Post reported.

Parolees are actually on parole because they have not served their sentences.

“New York incarcerates more people for parole violations than anywhere in the country,” she added. “That is a point of shame for us and it needs to be fixed.”

Among the parole violators who were released from custody thus far was 21-year-old Joseph Rivera, who has been accused of plunging a hatchet into 47-year-old Heather Majors’ body over 30 times, the New York Post reported.

Majors died two days after the gruesome July 10 attack.

Rivera was arrested on July 21 for alleged parole violations after police identified him as a potential suspect in Majors’ murder, the New York Post reported.

Monroe County prosecutors said they intended to formally charge him in connection with Majors’ death prior to his anticipated scheduled release in mid-December.

But unbeknownst to prosecutors, Rivera was one of 17 inmates abruptly released from the Monroe County Jail on Tuesday under the new law, WHEC reported.

New York State Parole officials notified investigators at 10 a.m. Tuesday that Rivera was out on the streets.

Investigators immediately reached out to the U.S. Marshals Violent Felony Fugitive Task Force to ask for help locating the murder suspect, WHEC reported.

Rivera was re-arrested without incident on Eastman Avenue at approximately 7 p.m.

He’s been charged with second-degree murder and is being held on no bond, WHEC reported.

Rivera’s preliminary hearing is scheduled to take place Sept. 27.

Majors’ sister, Jessica Majors, said she was stunned to learn her sister’s alleged murderer had spent the better part of the day outside jail.

“He shouldn’t have been released,” Jessica Majors told WHEC. “He killed my sister like an animal and he’s 21-years-old. And if he could be that brutal, commit that brutal of a crime at 21, he doesn’t need to be out.”

Hochul sidestepped reporters’ questions about Rivera’s release and the parole reform law on Wednesday, the New York Post reported.

“The individual was in on a technicality,” she said, defending the measure. “No person who’s accused of violent crime will be walking from jails.”

The governor previously said incarcerating convicts who repeatedly fail to abide by the conditions of their parole sentences “doesn’t make us any safer,” the New York Daily News reported.

“These people weren’t a danger in the first place,” Hochul added.

Written by
Holly Matkin

Holly is a former probation and parole officer who is married to a sheriff’s deputy. She is a regular contributor to Signature Montana magazine, and has written feature articles for Distinctly Montana magazine.

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Written by Holly Matkin


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