Mario’s ugliest son can moral grandstand with the best of them, particularly when it ends up with people going to prison as long as they’re the “right” people. But as governor, Andy Cuomo has proven himself as niggardly as possible.
Friday turned out to be the day some New York State prisoners saw their dreams come true in the form of mercy from Governor Andrew Cuomo.
The governor used his executive clemency powers to commute the sentences of two convicted criminals, and grant pardons to nine others.
It doesn’t cost anything for Andy to issue a pardon or commute a sentence. At least, it costs nothing beyond political capital, and Andy certainly had enough to pay for more than a stingy eleven in this woke Empire state of blue. Bear in mind, the numbers of crimes, and consequently convictions, may be down now, but New York prisons still warehouse the jetsam of decades of tough on crime excesses going back to when Nelly Rockefeller came up with his best idea.
How long, Andy? Ten years? 25? 100? How many years did that drug dealer deserve for being too low on the totem pole to rat anyone important out? How high a price did the state have to levy because the teen made the choice to go to trial because he was grossly overcharged as if he was some drug kingpin when his role was running the vials of crack from the barbershop to the street corner for $100 a week?
There are about 50,000 people in New York prisons today. And only a stinkin’ eleven deserved a break? This isn’t about approving of crime, or excusing it because of social injustice and racial disproportionality. Sure, those are problems, but a bullet shot by a black guy kills just as well as a bullet shot by a white guy.
This is about correcting decades of insanely bad policies rushed into place to placate the angriest and most fearful citizens by pandering politicians who couldn’t have cared less whether they would work, but only that something be done. So something was done, and Dannemora went from cow pasture to a destination for Bronx mothers.
So why couldn’t Governor Andy find it in his cold, dark woke heart to pardon more than two, commute more than nine? NYU’s Rachel Barkow immediately saw a problem.
I would like to see as much media attention and uproar about Cuomo’s lack of clemency grants as there was of Bevin’s pardons because it is outrageous that Cuomo only found 11 cases to grant out of the thousands who applied.
But of course there won’t be. And that one-way ratchet of media attention is why governors fail to use their clemency powers to any real extent and is one of the many factors that perpetuates mass incarceration.
The media takes little notice of the failure of a governor, even in a state with as much media and pretense at giving a damn as New York, to exercise clemency. But had Cuomo flexed his pardon powers, the media would rip him to shreds if someone turned out not to be the sort of criminal the evokes tears of empathy rather than tears of fury. No governor wants to be Bevined.
Kentucky’s new Republican attorney general has asked the FBI to investigate a flurry of pardons by former Gov. Matt Bevin.
The pardons have drawn criticism from both sides of the political aisle after media reports highlighted some that went to convicts who had wealthy or politically connected families.
The wrong crime? The wrong family? Forget whether they deserved clemency and find rationalizations to attack for a governor committing mercy.
“I believe the pardon power should be used sparingly and only after great deliberation with due concern for public safety,” Cameron wrote in the letter addressed to two Democratic state lawmakers, who shared the letter Thursday.
Former Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin, a Republican, decided to exercise his clemency power on the way out the door. Current Attorney General Daniel Cameron, also a Republican (born 1985, just a few years after I was admitted to the bar), seized upon the media circus surrounding Bevin’s pardoning the wrong sort of criminal, to the point of calling for the feds to investigate him.
Bevin, a Republican, issued hundreds of pardons between his electoral defeat on Nov. 5 and his final day in office on Dec. 9. His pardons included clemency for convicted killer Patrick Baker, whose family held a fundraiser for Bevin in 2018, and a convicted sex offender whose mother was married to a millionaire road contractor.
Hundreds of pardons, a handful of which provided juicy fodder for the media. Cuomo issues two pardons and nine commutations. The scandal is right there, that Cuomo could only manage to eke out eleven people worthy of clemency, but that’s not the sort of scandal that attracts outrage. Other governors showed a bit more fortitude than Governor Andy.
Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker granted more than 11,000 pardons for low-level marijuana convictions Tuesday — one day before a sweeping law makes cannabis legal in the state for people 21 and older.
That’s how it’s done. That’s how it could be done. Andrew Cuomo, however, made the choice not to do this. Somehow, nobody will notice, or call out, Governor Cuomo like the media did with Governor Bevin, while Cuomo can continue his virtue signaling for the sake of the New York Citibike progressives.