Jan 052017
 

VID praises New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo for his end-of-the year decision granting clemencies to more than 100 people.  These included pardons for many youthful offenders convicted of minor crimes, and the commutation of sentences for several elderly prisoners, including Judith Clark.

VID Candles for ClemenciesThe Governor’s decision was the culmination of years of effort for VID.  New York’s venerable progressive club is a major sponsor of Candles for Clemency, which since 2009 has led a campaign for criminal justice reform.  Prior to last week, clemencies had not been a priority for the Governor.  Club members were among the organizers and participants in the movement to inspire the Governor to recognize the plight of prisoners.

“We are proud of the role VID played in making this day possible,” said Tony Hoffmann, co-chair of Candles for Clemency and a former President of Village Independent Democrats.  “We have been and will continue to be leaders in the fight for social, economic, and criminal justice in New York City and throughout the nation.”

“This is a proud moment for New York.  Our efforts show what we can achieve through our activism and commitment.  Governor Cuomo’s heroic actions should serve as a model for our nation,” said Allen Roskoff, Candles for Clemency founder and co-chair and president of the Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club.

All the recipients of clemency have been rehabilitated and taken responsibility for their crimes.  One, Judith Clark, has earned multiple degrees during her incarceration, and has taught prenatal parenting classes for pregnant women, co-founded a ground breaking organization to address the AIDS epidemic, and raised and trained over a dozen guide dogs for law enforcement agencies and disabled veterans.  

“VID is delighted with Governor Cuomo’s just and wise decision,” said Erik Coler, President of VID.   “We hope he will continue to release deserving prisoners, especially the elderly and infirm, who are languishing in jail because of unfair and inhumane sentencing rules of the past.”

Governor’s Press Release

New York Times Coverage

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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

RALLY FOR PRISON JUSTICE  AT HOME OF GOVERNOR CUOMO

 


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 https://www.facebook.com/CandlesforClemency or http://jimowles.org/events/2015-candles-for-clemency. Follow us on twitter at CandlesForClemency@candlesfor.

Contacts:
Allen Roskoff
Founder, and Co-Coordinator, Candles for Clemency
President, Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club
aroskoff@mac.com 917-553-7180

Tony Hoffmann
Co-Coordinator, Candles for Clemency
Former President, Village Independent Democrats, at
tonyhoffmann26@gmail.com 212-741-3265

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Sep 082014
 

VID was well represented at the Clemency Vigil which took place by candle light on the evening of September 6th in Mt. Kisco, NY

outside the home of Governor Andrew Cuomo.  Over 150 people participated.

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Its purpose was to try to convince the governor to start issuing clemencies to those inmates in the NYS correctional system who deserve them.  Many inmates have been incarcerated for long periods of time either for non-violent crimes or for serious crimes, but have unquestionably been rehabilitated.  As of today the governor hasn’t issued a single clemency.   The rally was organized by the Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club with the support of the VID.

Among the wide variety of speakers asking the governor to do the humane thing and start issuing clemencies were Allen Roskoff, President of the Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club, Robert Dennison, retired Chairman, New York State Board of ParolePhilanthropist Bill Samuels, Zenaida Mendez, President of NYS NOW, and celebrities Kathryn Erbe, star of Law & Order: Criminal Intent and Cathrine Curtin from Orange is the New Black.

The following VID’ers attended the Candle Light Vigil: Jonathan Geballe, Mary Dugan, Betsy Mickel, Tom Connor, Kathy Slawinski,  Alexander Meadows,  Kate Linker, Kitty Loving and Tony Hoffmann.

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