NY Governor Quietly Grants Clemency to Murderers

AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews

While inflation and immigration remain among the highest priorities for voters this year, concerns about rising crime rates are also a leading issue. Donald Trump was touting his plan to make the streets of New York City safe again during his recent rally in the Bronx and Republican governors around the country have been touting any drops in crime rates that have been measured. But that message doesn't seem to have sunk in for New York Governor Kathy Hochul. While other leaders are working to lock up the bad guys, she has been springing more people loose. On Friday she granted clemency to thirteen more people. Many were convicted of dealing hard drugs, but two of them were serving life sentences for murder. Donald Trump is only trailing Joe Biden by nine points in New York right now. Is this really the message she wants to be sending? (Gothamist)

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New York Gov. Kathy Hochul on Friday granted clemency to 13 people, including several convicted of drug crimes decades ago and two serving life sentences for murder.

Hochul's announcement follows a promise she made in 2021 to use her executive clemency powers on a rolling basis instead of granting pardons and commutations just once a year during the winter holiday season. Since becoming governor, she has granted clemency to 72 people, according to her office.

A spokesperson for Hochul said more than 1,600 clemency applications are currently pending: 1,184 for sentence commutations, including reduced prison time, and 472 for pardons. Criminal justice advocates have urged her to commute the sentences of more people who are still in prison.

As noted above, Hochul has already granted clemency to more than seventy people since winning her first full term in office. She was bragging about having streamlined the state's clemency application website so they could be processed faster. New York City residents are already going berzerk over the number of people being randomly punched, mugged, raped, or being shoved in front of subway trains. Yet Hochul continues to prioritize putting more of them back out onto the streets.

It's true that some of the people who received clemency on Friday had already been released from prison after completing their sentences. So why bother issuing clemency now? Hochul explained her reasoning for that as well. She said that some of them were facing "threats to their immigration status" by having a conviction on their record while being in the country on a visa. But isn't that the whole idea of having those laws in place? We have always welcomed immigrants who want to come to America to work and blend in productively, but if they turn to a life of crime they are supposed to go home.

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In addition to those thirteen people, Hochul also significantly moved up the dates for two prisoners to have a meeting with the parole board. One of them is a convicted murderer serving a 75-year to life sentence for killing a cab driver and attempting to kill another person. He wasn't supposed to be eligible to appear before the parole board for thirty more years. The other lucky recipient is a 41-year-old who is serving a 25-year-to-life sentence for second-degree murder.

Hochul said the two men “have demonstrated remorse and a commitment to rehabilitation.” But of course, they would. That's what their attorneys train them to do if they want to have any hope of early release. The question is whether or not rehabilitation will pay off when they are back out on the street or if they will return to their old ways. If it doesn't work out and someone else winds up dead, that blood will be on Kathy Hochul's hands.

I was under the impression that we are mostly done with the "criminal justice reform" movement and defunding or reimagining the police. We've all seen how well that's worked out in cities around the country and it hasn't been pretty. But at least in New York, it appears that when Democrats latch on to an idea - even a very bad one - they are loathe to let it go.


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David Strom 10:00 AM | June 21, 2024
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