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New York Court of Claims Awards $90,000 for Overextended Incarceration/Parole

On April 2, 2015, the New York State Court of Claims awarded a former prisoner $90,000 for being incarcerated and subjected to parole after the expiration of his sentence.

The New York Department of Corrections and Community Services failed to credit Alvin Torres with the proper amount of jail time credit. Thus, he remained incarcerated 46 days at Queensboro Correctional Facility beyond the expiration of his sentence before he was released on parole. 48 days later, his parole was revoked and he was incarcerated for an additional 77 days at Rikers Island before it was realized that his sentence had been miscalculated and had actually expired 172 days earlier.

Represented by attorney Robert Dembia, Torres filed a claim alleging the unlawful imprisonment and parole supervision had damaged him. The court found the department liable, then held a trial on damages. Torres was the only witness to testify. He described harrowing conditions of confinement – especially at Rikers Island.

Although Torres was not physically injured during his unlawful confinement, the court found Torres had "established that he was both conscious of, and distressed by, his loss of freedom and the pursuits he had to forego as a result. Likewise, he noted various limitations on his liberty that he chafed under while under parole supervision. While less severe than the conditions of his imprisonment, nevertheless he endured a number of restrictions on his freedom, as well as indignities like having to provide urine samples in the presence of his parole officer."

The court also noted that Torres had been previously incarcerated on numerous occasions and concluded that, while his testimony had "established that he experienced sadness, anxiety, and fear about being held past his maximum expiration date, the degree of the mental anguish" was vitiated by his previous incarcerations.

Having reviewed the amount usually granted as damages for wrongful incarceration in other cases and noting that Torres had not requested any economic damages such as lost wages, the court held that $90,000 would be fair and reasonable compensation and awarded that amount to Torres. See: Torres v. State of New York, N.Y. State Court of Claims, Case No. 2015-040-014, Claim No. 119045.

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Related legal case

Torres v. State of New York