Friday, December 30, 2011

Cuomo: Change (and Pardons) in the Air?

Jim Dwyer, at the New York Times, has written an interesting piece on Andrew Cuomo and criminal justice. It notes that, as a candidate, Cuomo "criticized his opponent for having failed to give a DNA test to a man who was in prison for a murder that he turned out to have had nothing to do with." Dwyer also notes Cuomo once appeared at a party held for a book written by a guy who spent 12 years in prison for "having handled $500 in a drug sting." Says Dwyer:
But Mr. Cuomo made no promises about cashing in on the lessons of the DNA era for reforms during his first year, and didn’t ... He did not lay a glove on a world that he knows well. In addition, it now appears that he will end his first year as chief executive as many other governors and presidents of the last three decades have, by keeping his distance, at least publicly, from the granting of pardons and clemency.
"Insiders" say there this is "likely to change," however, because:
The governor’s advisers are now conducting intensive reviews of requests for pardons or clemency from people serving severe sentences for drug offenses that are no longer punished so harshly, from immigrants who faced deportation over relatively minor crimes in their distant past, and from others who may have been justly convicted but who are serving prison terms that will hollow out their lives, at no benefit to society. For those able to get their cases before the governor’s staff, his power to pardon and grant clemency can be a magical and restorative bullet.
A "chief spokesman" also says, “It is a power that the governor will use practically and methodically to help ensure everyone is treated fairly under the law.” See full article here.

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