FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Democrats and Clemency

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 

 

More articles by:

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.

December 12, 2018
Arshad Khan
War, Anniversaries and Lessons Never Learned
Paul Street
Blacking Out the Yellow Vests on Cable News: Corporate Media Doing its Job
Kenneth Surin
The Brexit Shambles Rambles On
David Schultz
Stacking the Deck Against Democracy in Wisconsin
Steve Early
The Housing Affordability Crisis and What Millennials Can do About It
George Ochenski
Collaboration Failure: Trump Trashes Sage Grouse Protections
Rob Seimetz
Bringing a Life Into a Dying World: A Letter From a Father to His Unborn Son
Michael Howard
PETA and the ‘S’-Word
John Kendall Hawkins
Good Panopt, Bad Panopt: Does It Make A Difference?
Kim C. Domenico
Redeeming Utopia: a Meditation On An Essay by Ursula LeGuin
Binoy Kampmark
Exhuming Franco: Spain’s Immemorial Divisions
ADRIAN KUZMINSKI
Democratizing Money
Laura Finley
Congress Must Reauthorize VAWA
December 11, 2018
Eric Draitser
AFRICOM: A Neocolonial Occupation Force?
Sheldon Richman
War Over Ukraine?
Louis Proyect
Why World War II, Not the New Deal, Ended the Great Depression
Howard Lisnoff
Police Violence and Mass Policing in the U.S.
Mark Ashwill
A “Patriotic” Education Study Abroad Program in Viet Nam: God Bless America, Right or Wrong!
Laura Flanders
HUD Official to Move into Public Housing?
Nino Pagliccia
Resistance is Not Terrorism
Matthew Johnson
See No Evil, See No Good: The Truth Is Not Black and White
Maria Paez Victor
How Reuters Slandered Venezuela’s Social Benefits Card
December 10, 2018
Jacques R. Pauwels
Foreign Interventions in Revolutionary Russia
Richard Klin
The Disasters of War
Katie Fite
Rebranding Bundy
Gary Olson
A Few Thoughts on Politics and Personal Identity
Patrick Cockburn
Brexit Britain’s Crisis of Self-Confidence Will Only End in Tears and Rising Nationalism
Andrew Moss
Undocumented Citizen
Dean Baker
Trump and China: Going With Patent Holders Against Workers
Lawrence Wittner
Reviving the Nuclear Disarmament Movement: a Practical Proposal
Dan Siegel
Thoughts on the 2018 Elections and Beyond
Thomas Knapp
Election 2020: I Can Smell the Dumpster Fires Already
Weekend Edition
December 07, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Steve Hendricks
What If We Just Buy Off Big Fossil Fuel? A Novel Plan to Mitigate the Climate Calamity
Jeffrey St. Clair
Cancer as Weapon: Poppy Bush’s Radioactive War on Iraq
Paul Street
The McCain and Bush Death Tours: Establishment Rituals in How to be a Proper Ruler
Jason Hirthler
Laws of the Jungle: The Free Market and the Continuity of Change
Ajamu Baraka
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights at 70: Time to De-Colonize Human Rights!
Andrew Levine
Thoughts on Strategy for a Left Opposition
Jennifer Matsui
Dead of Night Redux: A Zombie Rises, A Spook Falls
Rob Urie
Degrowth: Toward a Green Revolution
Binoy Kampmark
The Bomb that Did Not Detonate: Julian Assange, Manafort and The Guardian
Robert Hunziker
The Deathly Insect Dilemma
Robert Fisk
Spare Me the American Tears for the Murder of Jamal Khashoggi
Joseph Natoli
Tribal Justice
Ron Jacobs
Getting Pushed Off the Capitalist Cliff
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail