News Release

The NACDL/FAMM State Clemency Project Reacts to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo's Exercise of Clemency Power

Washington, DC (Dec. 27, 2017) – The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) and Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM) praise New York Governor Andrew Cuomo for commuting the sentences of two prisoners today. As detailed in an official announcement released this afternoon, Governor Cuomo also pardoned 59 individuals today.

The NACDL/FAMM State Clemency Project, which is supported by the Foundation for Criminal Justice (FCJ), was announced in August of this year to recruit, train, and provide resource support to pro bono attorneys who will assist state prisoners to submit petitions to have their sentences commuted.

New York is the first state to participate in the program. Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the partnership with the NACDL/FAMM State Clemency Project this past summer which will help prisoners seeking clemency pursuant to the Governor's clemency initiative. The NACDL/FAMM State Clemency Project has trained approximately 116 New York lawyers and assigned 141 of the cases forwarded to it by the state’s Executive Clemency Bureau.

"As the Executive Director of the Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem and the President of NACDL, I am gratified to see Governor Cuomo fulfilling his pledge to commute the sentences of deserving candidates seeking clemency," said NACDL President Rick Jones. "While this is an especially auspicious time of year for this news to be delivered to these grantees, their families and communities, we encourage the Governor to continue this process on an ongoing basis, making regularized use of his clemency power to do justice in all appropriate cases."

"Clemency is often the last hope for so many prisoners who have received an unjust sentence. We are proud to be a part of an effort that means so much to prisoners and their families," said FAMM President Kevin Ring.

"We applaud Governor Cuomo for today's grants and for partnering with the NACDL/FAMM State Clemency Project to help ensure that all interested and eligible New York prisoners are provided with trained and resourced pro bono counsel to prepare and submit petitions to have their sentences commuted," said NACDL Executive Director Norman L. Reimer. "Taking a careful second look at these individuals, their progress, and their sentences is good for justice and fairness, and it’s good for all of the people of New York. The project has only just begun submitting petitions, and so we look forward to an ever-increasing number of commutations by the Governor."

Details concerning the clemency eligibility criteria established by Gov. Cuomo as well as information on how to apply for clemency are available at www.ny.gov/services/apply-clemency.

If you are interested in volunteering to take on one or more cases through the Project, please visit https://stateclemency.org or contact Project Manager Steven Logan at slogan@nacdl.org

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The NACDL/FAMM Clemency Project brings NACDL's and FAMM's collective experience as partners of the federal-level Clemency Project 2014 to state-level clemency efforts. The Project recruits lawyers and trains them to identify eligible prisoners based on criteria provided by participating state executives. Project staff works with state agencies to devise the most efficient way to connect applicants to volunteers, provide essential applicant information, and submit well-crafted petitions. The Project has a state-based focus that will be responding to the criteria articulated by each governor or state clemency authority, and relying heavily upon local attorneys, law firms, and law clinics. 

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Contacts

Ivan J. Dominguez, Director of Public Affairs & Communications, NACDL, 202-465-7662, idominguez@nacdl.org 

Rabiah Alicia Burks, Director of Communications, FAMM, 202-999-4258, rburks@famm.org 

The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers is the preeminent organization advancing the mission of the criminal defense bar to ensure justice and due process for persons accused of crime or wrongdoing. A professional bar association founded in 1958, NACDL's many thousands of direct members in 28 countries – and 90 state, provincial and local affiliate organizations totaling up to 40,000 attorneys – include private criminal defense lawyers, public defenders, military defense counsel, law professors and judges committed to preserving fairness and promoting a rational and humane criminal legal system.