Should Dennis Kozlowski Get Work Release?

Dennis Kozlowski

This morning the NY Post reported that Dennis Koslowski, the former embattled head of Tyco who is currently serving a 8 to 25 year sentence, is being denied work release once again. Apparently, he has a job lined up with a firm called Assets Technology Group, which claims that Koslowski would be “an extraordinary asset” to the company.

Kozlowski has been approved by the three-person Temporary Work Release committee at Mid-State Correctional Facilty three times. However, the superintendent there has overruled them by noting  “the seriousness and sophistication” of Kozlowski’s crimes.  

I myself have appeared before the same type of committee, at Mohawk Correctional Facility, right next door to where Kozlowski currently is, and where former NY Giants wide receiver Plaxico Burress was just released from. I was serving a 2 1/3 to 7 year sentence for securities fraud and appeared before the temporary release committee two times. 

Let me tell you, it’s more than nerve wracking. You have three people who have the power to grant you work release, to get you the heck out of prison.  I remember the day like yesterday; there I was sitting in my “state greens,” in the hallway, just 15 feet outside the room where two civilians and a Mohawk CF lieutenant were awaiting me. You have about 5-10 minutes to speak. The first question was “So, why do you feel you should be granted work release?” Three sets of eyes beaming at you, awaiting your answer, your throat goes dry, you ask for water. Talk about pressure. Remember, the answer you give, and how you give it, can mean being released from prison. There was never any trade I placed during all my years on Wall Street that produced as much as anxiety as this meeting did. We are talking about your freedom here!  

You are eligible to apply for work release based on the nature of your crime (must be non-violent) whether or not it’s a first offence, and when you amass a certain number of ‘points’ based on good behaviour, receiving no tickets within prison, etc… The number of points you need is 32. I qualified for all of the above after only four months into my sentence. I knew darn well, that with only four months under my belt I had zero chance of getting work release. But it was good practice, because  once you are denied, you can re-apply after three months, and give it a go all over again. And if you are denied by the committee again, you can then appeal to Albany to overturn the rejection.  Which is exactly what Kozlowski is doing now. This takes time however, Albany drags their feet, there is no rush to rubber stamp these approvals, but they do happen.  I talk about all this in my new book, “My Road Home,” chronicling my 13-month sentence from Rikers Island, to a NY State prison.

Should Kozlowski be granted work release? I think so. Let’s look at the facts: he was ordered to pay back $100 million of restitution, and he’s paid back $90 million of it so far. He has a spotless disciplinary record in prison, (not an easy thing to do, fellow inmates are always looking to ‘trap off’ other inmates of some notoriety), he has participated in every single court ordered program asked of him, e.g, Alcohol substance abuse training, an anger-management program, and has helped fellow inmates complete there GED exams. Not to mention, with NY going broke, it is costing taxpayers $48,000 per year to house Kozlowski. 

How much blood do we want to get out of this guy? C’mon, I know that money can be better spent right now!  Work release is not a get-out-of-jail free card however. If Koz is granted work release someday, he will be bussed downstate (still shackled) to a work release correctional facility, of which most of them are in the NYC area. The one I stayed at was Fulton, CF in the Bronx. You still sleep in bunk beds, 10 or so to a room, lights out at 11:00pm.  You are allowed to go out during the day, to your job, but must return back to the facility by 6:00 p.m. or so. When you come back to the facility after a day of working, you are frisked, and given drug and alcohol urine tests. You have three hours to produce urine. If you can’t accomplish that it’s assumed you’re guilty of something, and you’re locked up and put on ‘hold.’  

You turn your paycheck over to the facility, and they then give you a certain amount of that to live on, and they hold the rest for your savings, until the day you are released from that facility. Failure to report back after work is severe, you will almost certainly be headed back to your original upstate prison, sometimes with additional time attached. The rules and regulations he has had to follow upstate are the same at the work release facility, the only difference (and it’s huge) is getting out Mon-Fri to work and contribute to society once again.

It’ll be interesting to see what Albany decides with Dennis Kozlowski. Given that the appeal is going forward any day now, he should have an answer in about three to four months.  I bet he gets work release, stay tuned. 

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