NOVEMBER 17, 2022: New York, NY
(Buffalo) Jose DiLenola, firstname.lastname@example.org, (585) 474-1522
(NYC) Jared Chausow, email@example.com, (650) 814-0565
(Albany) TeAna Taylor, firstname.lastname@example.org, (518) 847-5497
ADVOCATES TO HOLD RALLIES IN NYC, BUFFALO & ALBANY CALLING ON GOV. HOCHUL TO FULFILL HER COMMITMENT TO EXPAND USE OF CLEMENCY AND REUNITE FAMILIES
RALLIES TO TAKE PLACE ONE YEAR AFTER GOV. HOCHUL COMMITTED TO GRANT CLEMENCIES ON AN ONGOING BASIS – AND AMID CRISIS OF AGING, SICKNESS & DEATH BEHIND BARS
WHAT: Family members of incarcerated of New Yorkers, formerly incarcerated New Yorkers, and other advocates will hold rallies in three locations across New York State calling on Governor Kathy Hochul to fulfill her commitment to expand the use of executive clemency to reunite families, heal communities, and help end mass incarceration. There is a crisis of aging, sickness, and death in New York State prisons, with a New Yorker dying in state prison more than once every three days. Under the New York State Constitution, the Governor has the authority to grant clemency at will, most commonly a pardon, which effectively erases the conviction record, or a commutation, which shortens a person’s prison sentence. In line with this authority, Governor Hochul further pledged to grant clemencies on an ongoing basis, as opposed to granting them as a once-a-year holiday gift. Advocates have long called on New York State’s governors to grant clemency frequently, inclusively, and transparently – meaning that it should be on an ongoing basis, that no person should be excluded from fair consideration, and that the Governor’s office should publicly release clemency data and relevant staff contacts.
New York City – Outside Gov. Hochul’s Office at 633 Third Avenue,
Albany – Outside the Governor’s Mansion at 138 Eagle Street, Albany
Buffalo – On Zoom due to weather: https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/
WHEN: TODAY, November 17 @ 6 PM
WHO: New Yorkers with loved ones in prison and formerly incarcerated people with the Release Aging People in Prison Campaign, New Hour for Women & Children – Long Island, Freedom Unshackled, VOCAL-NY, Newburgh LGBTQ+ Center, Free The People WNY, University of Buffalo Innocence and Justice Project, and more.
There are roughly 31,000 people in New York State prisons, all of whom are legally eligible for clemency. Thus far, Gov. Hochul has only commuted one person’s sentence. She granted pardons to nine others who had already been released or never served time in prison after a conviction.
Approximately one year ago, Governor Kathy Hochul pledged to grant more clemencies on an ongoing basis to imprisoned New Yorkers. Her vow gave hope to tens of thousands of predominantly Black and Latinx families torn apart by the racist policies of mass incarceration that one day their incarcerated loved ones will return home rather than die in prison.
One person incarcerated in New York State prisons dies every three days. The average life expectancy in her prisons has dropped to 58 years old. The majority of these New Yorkers are Black and other People of Color. Among those who have died in prison in recent years are many Black elders who were just some of the countless incarcerated mentors and leaders who had long since transformed.
Roughly 1-in-4 people who are currently incarcerated in New York State prisons are serving life sentences. Many were locked up as teenagers, maturing behind bars, but yet denied a chance under current law to even be fairly considered for release, either because their extreme prison sentences are longer than their natural lifetimes, or because the Parole Board denies their release again and again with no regard to their rehabilitation. 77% of people who are currently incarcerated in state prisons are Black people and other people of color, and 15% are classified by NYS DOCCS as older adults (age 55 and up). The average age of death due to so-called “natural causes” behind bars in New York is only 58, likely because of the stress of the prison environment, separation from loved ones, unhealthy and spoiled food, and lack of quality health care.