Governor Andrew Cuomo, who has long been known to be miserly in terms of using his clemency and pardon powers, has announced he will issue youthful offenders pardons on a scale never seen anywhere in the United States. The state of New York will issue pardons to individuals who had been convicted of non-violent crimes as minors but have since led lives of responsible, productive, and law-abiding members of society.
As a measure that will help the New Yorkers get a second chance when it comes to jobs, housing, and other services, these pardons will be made available to anyone who was found guilty of either a non-violent felony or a misdemeanor that occurred during the ages of 16 or 17. So long as they have kept a clean record for 10 years and meet a few other requirements, anyone who applies will be virtually guaranteed approval.
The other requirements include: (1) being current on all taxes; (2) zero sexual element involved in the charges being pardoned; and (3) currently employed, looking for work, or enrolled in school. Also, there is the requirement that the applicant accept the conditional nature of these pardons. That means if a person who receives a pardon commits a crime later on down the line, the pardon is subject to being revoked and the original charges will be reinstated on a person"s record in a way that makes it like the pardon was never granted in the first place.
It is important to note that the pardons will not expunge a person"s criminal record, but instead, allow people to avoid the restrictions that arise with a conviction on their record. Anyone who obtains a pardon will receive documentation to provide with a job application, as they will still have to mark "yes" when asked if they were ever convicted of a crime.
This move comes nearly a month after Governor Cuomo established a "clemency project" in response to the criticisms levelled against his administration"s reluctance to use this power. Governor Cuomo told the New York Times in a phone interview that he wanted "to help people get on with their life." This second-chance was being given to people who have long since left the life of crime and earned their redemption. Gov. Cuomo presciently pointed out that "[w]hen you"re young you can make a mistake, and maybe you don"t have to carry the burden for your entire life."
Officials in the Cuomo administration made clear that this was a part of the monumental effort being undertaken to push through the backlog of nearly 10,000 who may qualify for clemency or a pardon. This is on top of the nearly 350 that are added to the list every year. In fact, Gov. Cuomo"s efforts will involve administration officials actively identifying potential candidates and reaching out to them to encourage them to apply.
Many local politicians have yet to have their say on the topic. It is believed that most state assembly members and state senators will be waiting to see the impact before commenting on the Governor's new plan. Most of New York's federal representatives have shown through their actions in the past that they will most likely support the push.