New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Thursday granted clemency to 21 people convicted of state crimes ranging from marijuana possession to second-degree murder.
Cuomo said in a statement announcing the move that his decision was prompted by the fact that the individuals concerned showed remorse and underwent rehabilitation.
“Today I granted clemency to 21 individuals who’ve shown through rehabilitation, remorse and commitment to their community that they deserve a clean slate,” Cuomo said in a tweet. “In New York, we believe the law should be just, as well as compassionate.”
The series of clemencies entailed 14 pardons and seven commutations.
“Those receiving pardons have, for years, demonstrated they are strong functioning members of their community and deserving of a clean slate that will allow them to escape the stigma of a long-ago conviction,” Cuomo said in the statement. “Those receiving sentence commutations have undergone a successful rehabilitation, demonstrated true remorse their actions and shown themselves to be worthy of a chance to re-enter society.”
One of those to receive a pardon was a woman convicted of criminal possession of marijuana and criminal trespass, who “has been crime free for 18 years, is a registered nurse, and has worked at a nursing home in New York State throughout the COVID-19 public health crisis.”
One of the sentence commutations was granted to a woman convicted of second-degree murder, who has served 16 years of a 22-year sentence. “She cycled in and out of abusive relationships throughout her adult life, including a relationship with victim of the crime for which she has now been incarcerated for more than 16 years and who she maintains she killed in self-defense,” the statement said, noting also that, while incarcerated, she took part in numerous programs addressing the effects of abuse and earned certification as a hospice aid.
Cuomo called the clemencies “another step toward a more fair and a more empathetic New York,” and thanked volunteer attorneys for helping clemency applicants and “for their dedication and pursuit of justice and rehabilitation.”
According to The Gothamist, Cuomo has received 6,405 petitions for clemency over the last four years, of which he has granted 95.
Governors have the power to grant clemency only in instances of state crimes, while the constitutional power of pardon accorded to the U.S. president applies only to crimes committed under federal law.
In a wave of pre-Christmas clemencies, President Donald Trump on Dec. 22 pardoned 15 individuals and commuted the sentences of 5 others, according to a White House statement. This was followed by another set of clemencies on Dec. 23, which involved full pardons to 26 individuals and three sentence commutations, according to the White House.