FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Democrats and Clemency

by ANTHONY PAPA

At the end of 2013 I look back at Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s accomplishments and applaud him for what he has done to make New York State a better place. In November of 2010, I wrote an article praising him saying that we needed a political leader like Andrew to halt the waste of scarce tax dollars on half-empty prisons. I went on to say that when he would be sworn in as governor of New York State he would have the ability to correct the economic waste that had been generated by the archaic prison-industrial complex and could implement a smarter economic approach that eventually will lead to a better functioning criminal justice system that would be cost efficient for the people of New York.

Although Andrew Cuomo has done a great job as governor to improve the quality of life for New Yorkers there is one particular area I feel he needs to make an improvement. This is his use of executive clemency powers. Since he has been in office, Cuomo has yet to use these powers and has not granted anyone any type of relief despite hundreds and hundreds of applications. This is surely a dismal account to people like me, but if you are eyeballing a presidential candidacy, it might make sense. The less people you grant relief under the powers of clemency the less you have to worry about the political repercussions it brings. And it seems that Governor Cuomo is not alone with this frame of thought. Joining him is President Obama who has the worst record of all presidents in using the power of executive clemency. To date Obama has given 39 pardons and one commutation.

In December of 2011, I wrote to Gov. Cuomo urging him to go on a rescue mission and grant clemency to people who were convicted under the draconian Rockefeller Drug Laws and had served enormous amounts of time and still stuck in prison. This was because they had been denied judicial relief and had fallen into the cracks of the criminal justice system.  At that time the request brought to life a campaign headed by several reporters urging Cuomo to use his clemency powers. This was led by New York Times columnist Jim Dwyer who wrote two columns on this subject. In his second column, “Lessons in DNA and Mercy,” he made a few interesting points, including how the Cuomo Administration would be conducting reviews of clemency requests from prisoners serving long drug sentences for drug offenses that were no longer being punished so severely. Dwyer’s piece also quoted Cuomo’s chief spokesman Josh Vlasto who said that Gov. Cuomo did not intend to let his executive clemency powers lie dormant.

But two years later, the contrary seems apparent since Gov. Cuomo has not used his clemency powers in any way, leaving many worthy people who have applied for clemency relief stuck in prison.

I know that Gov. Cuomo knows about the Rockefeller Drug Laws because he stood shoulder to shoulder with us trying to repeal them in the past. He knows of the injustice that these bad laws created, affecting tens of thousands of individuals including innocent family members.

The holiday season is a traditional time for executives to use their power of clemency or pardons to show mercy to people who are imprisoned under unjust laws. These are people who have already served enormous amounts of time but are stuck in prison and have no legal remedies in which to use to regain their freedom. Once again I am asking Gov. Cuomo to please use his executive clemency powers to free those who deserve a second chance in life.

Anthony Papa is the author of 15 Years to Life: How I Painted My Way to Freedom and Communications Specialist for Drug Policy Alliance. He can be reached at: anthonypapa123@yahoo.com 

 

Anthony Papa is the Manager of Media and Artist Relations for the Drug Policy Alliance and the author of This Side of Freedom: Life After Lockdown.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

May 24, 2017
Paul Street
Beyond Neoliberal Identity Politics
Daniel Read
Powder Keg: Manchester Terror Attack Could Lead to Yet Another Resurgence in Nationalist Hate
Robert Fisk
When Peace is a Commodity: Trump in the Middle East
Kenneth Surin
The UK’s Epochal Election
Jeff Berg
Lessons From a Modern Greek Tragedy
Steve Cooper
A Concrete Agenda for Progressives
Michael McKinley
Australia-as-Concierge: the Need for a Change of Occupation
William Hawes
Where Are Your Minds? An Open Letter to Thomas de Maiziere and the CDU
Steve Early
“Corporate Free” Candidates Move Up
Fariborz Saremi
Presidential Elections in Iran and the Outcomes
Dan Bacher
The Dark Heart of California’s Water Politics
Alessandra Bajec
Never Ending Injustice for Pinar Selek
Rob Seimetz
Death By Demigod
Jesse Jackson
Venezuela Needs Helping Hand, Not a Hammer Blow 
Binoy Kampmark
Return to Realpolitik: Trump in Saudi Arabia
Vern Loomis
The NRA: the Dragon in Our Midst
May 23, 2017
John Wight
Manchester Attacks: What Price Hypocrisy?
Patrick Cockburn
A Gathering of Autocrats: Trump Puts US on Sunni Muslim Side of Bitter Sectarian War with Shias
Shamus Cooke
Can Trump Salvage His Presidency in Syria’s War?
Thomas S. Harrington
“Risk”: a Sad Comedown for Laura Poitras
Josh White
Towards the Corbyn Doctrine
Mike Whitney
Rosenstein and Mueller: the Regime Change Tag-Team
Jan Oberg
Trump in Riyadh: an Arab NATO Against Syria and Iran
Susan Babbitt
The Most Dangerous Spy You’ve Never Heard Of: Ana Belén Montes
Rannie Amiri
Al-Awamiya: City of Resistance
Dimitris Konstantakopoulos
The European Left and the Greek Tragedy
Laura Leigh
This Land is Your Land, Except If You’re a Wild Horse Advocate
Hervé Kempf
Macron, Old World President
Michael J. Sainato
Devos Takes Out Her Hatchet
L. Ali Khan
I’m a Human and I’m a Cartoon
May 22, 2017
Diana Johnstone
All Power to the Banks! The Winners-Take-All Regime of Emmanuel Macron
Robert Fisk
Hypocrisy and Condescension: Trump’s Speech to the Middle East
John Grant
Jeff Sessions, Jesus Christ and the Return of Reefer Madness
Nozomi Hayase
Trump and the Resurgence of Colonial Racism
Rev. William Alberts
The Normalizing of Authoritarianism in America
Frank Stricker
Getting Full Employment: the Fake Way and the Right Way 
Jamie Davidson
Red Terror: Anti-Corbynism and Double Standards
Binoy Kampmark
Julian Assange, Sweden, and Continuing Battles
Robert Jensen
Beyond Liberal Pieties: the Radical Challenge for Journalism
Patrick Cockburn
Trump’s Extravagant Saudi Trip Distracts from His Crisis at Home
Angie Beeman
Gig Economy or Odd Jobs: What May Seem Trendy to Privileged City Dwellers and Suburbanites is as Old as Poverty
Colin Todhunter
The Public Or The Agrochemical Industry: Who Does The European Chemicals Agency Serve?
Jerrod A. Laber
Somalia’s Worsening Drought: Blowback From US Policy
Michael J. Sainato
Police Claimed Black Man Who Died in Custody Was Faking It
Clancy Sigal
I’m a Trump Guy, So What?
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail