December 7, 2020: Albany, New York
WHEN: Monday, December 7th, 5:30PM
WHERE: Outside Governor’s Mansion, Eagle Street, Albany; and Via Zoom: bit.ly/Free-Them
WHAT: New Yorkers with family members in prison, formerly incarcerated people, and advocates will hold a socially distant vigil to call on Governor Andrew Cuomo to grant clemencies to New Yorkers in prison and reunite families amid the COVID-19 surge in the NY State prison system, and ahead of the holidays.
WHO: New Yorkers with family members in prison, formerly incarcerated people, and advocates from the Release Aging People in Prison Campaign, Albany Social Justice Center, All of Us, Bethlehem United, Black Freedom Project, Capital Area Against Mass Incarceration (CAAMI), Capital District Coalition Against Islamophobia, Capital District Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), Capital District Showing Up for Racial Justice (CD-SURJ), Citizen Action of New York, Jewish Voice for PeaceAlbany Chapter, Muslim Solidarity Committee, NYS Prisoner Justice Network, Parole Justice Albany, Project Salam, Something Out Of Nothing (S.O.O.N.), Troy 4 Black Lives, VOCAL-NY, Women
BACKGROUND: New York State prisons have recently experienced a record-breaking number of COVID-19 infections, including new outbreaks at Attica and Cayuga prisons. Amid the pandemic, Governor Andrew Cuomo has granted three total clemencies to New Yorkers in prison–fewer clemencies than President Donald Trump, and governors in California, Illinois, and other states across the country. Cuomo has refused to take action despite calls from advocates, attorneys, family members of people in prison, public health experts, Members of Congress, district attorneys and philanthropists, editorial boards, and high profile celebrities for him to grant wide-sweeping clemencies to people in prison in response to the virus.
During his nearly 10-year tenure as governor, Cuomo has granted 24 total clemencies–fewer than governors in Republican states such as Oklahoma and Kentucky, and Democratic states such as California. Since 2016, more than 6,400 incarcerated people in New York State prisons have submitted clemency applications. Thousands of applications have gone unanswered for years.
The New York State constitution explicitly permits Governor Andrew M. Cuomo to grant clemency to anyone in the New York State prison system. There are currently roughly 36,000 people incarcerated in New York State prisons–nearly 9,000 are elderly people and roughly 8,600 are serving life sentences.