Sep 272015

Candles for Clemency from emmanuel fineus on Vimeo.

More than 150 Candles for Clemency Lit Up Mt. Kisco on Sept 26th

In a departure from his previous policy, Governor Andrew Cuomo is establishing a system to review requests to shorten prison sentences of rehabilitated prisoners.

Four days before a planned demonstration near his Westchester County home that had the backing of a wide array of elected officials, the governor called longtime gay activist Allen Roskoff, saying, “I get it. I get it. It will be done.” Cuomo pledged to review requests for clemency from state prisoners.

The September 26 demonstration in the parking lot of the Presbyterian Church of Mount Kisco was the second annual “Candles for Clemency” gathering demanding that “Governor Cuomo get a heart; issue clemencies now.”  Nathan Riley, Gay City News, Sept. 27

Cuomo chief counsel, Alphonso David, addressed the demonstrators and described the new review plan: “Particular attention will be paid to prisoners who received sentences for crimes committed at a young age, elderly prisoners who pose little risk to society, and prisoners who have served long sentences but have demonstrated that their release would not harm others.” The latter may prove controversial.   David specifically offered the assistance of his office to help attorneys and advocacy groups through the clemency process.

You can also see video news coverage of the Candles for Clemency vigil by Diana Campbell on Fios News

Endorsements for the vigil included:  City Comptroller Scott Stringer, Public Advocate Letitia James, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, seven local members of Congress, and 17 members of the City Council, including Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito.

The event was organized by Tony Hoffmann of VID and Allen Roskoff of The Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club.

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    Sep 092015
    Candles-for Clemency



    To protest Governor Andrew Cuomo’s cruel and unjust prison policies, elected officials, celebrities, religious leaders, and other people of conscience will gather for a candlelight vigil to respectfully insist that New York State demonstrate wisdom, mercy, and righteousness.

    The rally and vigil will take place at the intersection of Crow Hill Rd. and Millwood Rd.,
    in Mount Kisco, on Saturday, September 26 at 7 p.m.

    Buses will leave New York City from 10th Avenue, (btw 16th and 17th Sts.) at 5 p.m.
    Mount Kisco is also accessible by car and Metro North railroad.

    New York State prison policies are in desperate need of reform. Many people are unjustly incarcerated, given unreasonably long sentences and have been placed in solitary confinement.

    Prisons hold many elderly, ill and disabled people who have served excessive time, pose no threat to society, and can live productive lives and make a positive contribution to the world. They must be released. Why should people die in prison separated from their loved ones and families?

    Why won’t the governor give incarcerated people a second chance? The support for clemency transcends national party lines. But in close to five years, the Cuomo administration has not issued a single clemency to anyone in prison.

    In April, the Governor’s counsel, Alphonso David, promised that the governor would begin a process of identifying viable candidates for clemency and to begin issuing clemency to those deemed worthy. But he has reneged on his promise. The Candles for Clemency Rally will help ensure that Governor Cuomo hears and heeds the public demand to reform New York’s prison system, stop playing politics with people’s lives, and show mercy and compassion by issuing clemency to those who deserve it.

    Principal sponsors of the rally and vigil are the Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club and the Village Independent Democrats. The event‘s supporters include some of New York’s most respected political, religious, and civic leaders and organizations, prison reformers, and leading figures in arts and entertainment.

    Demand justice and compassion. Join us.

    For more information, go to or Follow us on twitter at CandlesForClemency@candlesfor.

    Allen Roskoff
    Founder, and Co-Coordinator, Candles for Clemency
    President, Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club 917-553-7180

    Tony Hoffmann
    Co-Coordinator, Candles for Clemency
    Former President, Village Independent Democrats, at 212-741-3265

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      Sep 032015
      Campaign Groove

      VID Flyers

      Since this election will have a low turnout and every vote will count, it’s especially important to get your campaign groove on.

      Please vote on September 10th for our judicial delegate slate.

      Get your friends and neighbors to vote. The most important things you can do are:
      Distribute the VID flyer/Mailer under your neighbors’ doors

      Give out the literature at a polling place for an hour or two on September 10th.

      If you can do either and need literature please:
      1-Contact Ed Yutkowitz and make arrangements to pick up the literature from him.  His email is His home address is 3 Sheridan Sq.
      2- Contact Tony Hoffmann.  His email is  His address is 100 Bank Street.  If you need large quantities (over 100 pieces) please contact Ed  snce he has the bulk of our literature
      3- Come to VID on Wednesday, September 9th from 6:00-7:30 PM.  Ed will be there.
      4- Come to VID on Primary Day from 7:00-8:00 AM or 5:00-6:30 PM– Tony will be there.

      As for giving out VID literature the best is to do it for an hour before or after you vote at your pollng place.

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