JoAnne Page, President and CEO of The Fortune Society, one of the nation’s most respected nonprofit organizations serving and advocating for formerly incarcerated men and women, issued the following statement:
“Governor Cuomo deserves our unwavering support for protecting the identities of the 140 people he pardoned in 2016 and 2017. These are individuals who, as children of 16 and 17, were convicted of nonviolent crimes 10 years or more ago. Both brain science and practical experience teach us that there is a profound difference between the decision-making abilities of teenagers and adults – certainly something every parent understands.
“Those the Governor pardoned have since built productive and successful lives; they have had no new convictions; and they’ve paid their dues – and their taxes. By releasing their names now, their futures and the futures of their families would be jeopardized. They would be at risk of discrimination in employment, education and housing, and face possible unemployment and homelessness. The sad fact is, people with criminal histories face lifetimes of such discrimination, at great cost to them as well as society.
“Governor Cuomo’s decision is in keeping with his recent passage of legislation to raise the age of criminal responsibility. New York was previously one of only two states that prosecuted 16- and 17- year-olds as adults. This injustice unfairly punished youth and prevented them from receiving the services they needed to rehabilitate themselves and re-integrate into their communities. His decision shows a deep comprehension of the harm that collateral consequences of a conviction can do, even 10 years after the fact.
“For more than 50 years, The Fortune Society has worked hard to undo the damage done by a justice system that treats youth like adults, and then exacts perpetual punishment on those who have done their time and built constructive lives. Releasing the names of these young people would perpetuate this vicious cycle.”
Download the .pdf of this press release here.
Contact: Colleen Roche, LAK Public Relations, Inc: 212-575-4545