Queens woman fights to stop early jail release for thief who stole her house, calls on pols to end the practice


Merin stands outside her home in Laurelton, Queens.

A 73-year-old woman whose Queens house was stolen by a fraudster in 2014 has mounted a campaign to upend the longstanding practice of releasing Rikers inmates early for good behavior.

Darrell Beatty, 52, used a phony deed to steal Jennifer Merin’s Laurelton home out from under her.

Last September, Queens Supreme Court Judge Michael Aloise sentenced Beatty to a year in jail for the theft. Merin expected him to serve the full year.

During the sentencing, Aloise even said: “I’m going to sentence you to one year. And I will recommend that he does every single day of it.”

Aloise added that if Beatty came up for early release, Merin would be given an opportunity to oppose it.

However, he is now scheduled for release from Rikers Island on April 30 for good behavior — and Merin was not given a chance to argue against it. She was also unaware that Beatty could be released before his full term was up.

“I was promised that I would be notified if he was scheduled for early release, and given an opportunity to speak before the decision was made,” Merin told the Daily News.

“I only found out by chance. Beatty not shanking someone in jail has no restorative value to what he did in his crime. He’s being told by being let out early that crime pays.”

Darrell Beatty is seen outside a Queens courthouse in 2014. He was sentenced to a year behind bars for theft, but is eligible for early release due to good behavior.

Merin has decided to challenge Beatty’s release and has been peppering city officials with questions about the longstanding practice in the justice system.

“The incentive to behave well should be that the convict gets out at the end of the sentence — because the sentence was deemed punishment commensurate with the crime,” she said.

“Good behavior while in custody does not alter the nature of the crime that is being punished, nor does it ameliorate the impact of that crime on the victim. If the convict doesn’t behave well while in custody, the infraction should be deemed a new crime and more time should be added.”

Under New York State Correction Law 803, inmates are given one-third of their sentence off for good behavior.

Who exactly is in charge of the decision remained murky. Various law enforcement agencies gave The News conflicting information.

The state Office of Court Administration said: “While judges have limited discretion to enroll defendants in certain programs that may permit early release … generally early release is an Executive Branch function.”

In response, a DOC spokesman said “if you abide by our rules and have no infractions on your record, you are automatically released on ‘good time’ if you are eligible under N.Y. Correction Law 804.”