ALBANY, N.Y. (WIVB) — Governor Andrew Cuomo is seeking to pardon thousands of New Yorkers convicted of either misdemeanors or non-violent felonies as teenagers.
Cuomo’s office says “approximately 10,000 people will be impacted” and that around 350 people will become eligible for pardoning each year.
The pardons will affect people who have not been convicted of a crime in 10 years.
“We spent all of these years believing that if we punished every offender enough without any relief in the future, every crime would disappear,” said Governor Cuomo. “What we ultimately did was give a life sentence of stigmatization to kids who made a mistake and drive more people towards crime, because society told them for the rest of their lives that that’s what they were – criminals. This initiative is about validating the personal commitment of people who turned their lives around and rejected crime in exchange for being a contributing member of society.”
Anyone who seeks a pardon can apply through Cuomo’s website here. The Governor’s administration will also be seeking out candidates for pardoning.
Soffiyah Elijah, Executive Director of the Correctional Association of New York, said, “I am excited that the Governor has taken it upon himself to do his part in ending the injustice of treating young boys and girls as adults in the court system. As Co-Chair of the Commission on Youth, Public Safety and Justice, I have seen the dire need to rectify this problem which has for so long kept our state behind the times in criminal justice. Now, with this action in addition, we are moving in the right direction and giving a chance for redemption for a group of people who have unequivocally earned it.”