Gotham Gazette

The Place for New York Policy and politics



  • Governor Hochul Must Fulfill Her Promise of Compassion and Clemency; We Can Help

    Gov. Hochul at the Court of Appeals (photo: Mike Groll/Governor's Office)

    As we sat together in a Brooklyn backyard, we examined shared circumstances: all of us were convicted of serious crimes that caused immeasurable harm, received a life sentence, and served decades behind bars. Now, all of us have much to be thankful for – we each had our sentence commuted through clemency. Collectively, we reflect on the many people still in prison who merit the same consideration.

    Each of us has been doing all we can to

  • Governor Hochul Misses the Mark in First Clemency Considerations, Leaving Despair

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    Gov. Hochul (photo: Kevin P. Coughlin/Office of the Governor)

    For arcane and entrenched reasons, clemency, the vast constitutional power of the Governor to commute a person’s prison sentence, is typically granted at the end of the year in a nod toward the spirit of the holidays. As a result, the prayers of the thousands of people in New York prisons who have pending clemency applications rose to a fever pitch once the calendar turned to December. Here was an opportunity for New York’s new Governor, Kathy Hochul, to distinguish herself from her predecessor, who carved

  • Say Their Names — The People Deserving Clemency

    Hochul sign bill office

    Governor Hochul (photo: Darren McGee/Governor's Office)

    It is the time of year when calls for charity intensify in number and volume and various ‘neediest funds’ and targeted events like Giving Tuesday seek to capitalize on holiday sentiments. Yet among the many righteous causes, little is said about one group of people in dire need – the more than 2 million people incarcerated across the country.

    The American crisis of mass incarceration is by now universally recognized as the number of people behind bars has grown by 700% since 1970. The myriad

  • Life and Death at the Stroke of the Governor's Pen

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    Governor Cuomo signs criminal justice reforms (photo: Governor's Office)

    New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has been trying in his daily press briefings to position himself as the national voice of reason, truth, and compassion regarding the coronavirus. To that end, he has liberally signed an array of executive orders ranging from shutting down businesses and closing schools to limiting the size of social gatherings.

    When the evidence revealed that COVID-19 was especially ravaging communities of color, the governor then tried to assume the mantle of race

  • The Governor’s Clemency Negligence

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    Governor Cuomo (photo: Mike Groll/Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo)

    At his daily coronavirus press briefing on Sunday, April 26, Governor Cuomo was asked  whether he had any plans to grant broad clemencies to people in prison, particularly to vulnerable populations. His testy and dismissive response – “How about if they are violent and just started their sentence?” – was telling. Presumably, the governor meant to remove from consideration people he believed remained a threat to public safety and had not been sufficiently punished.

    The reporter’s question was