Gov. Andrew Cuomo has announced he will issue executive pardons for 10,000 former offenders who committed non-violent crimes when they were juveniles.
Eligible offenders must have been convicted of misdemeanors or non-violent felonies when they were 16 or 17 years old, and not have had any convictions in the past ten years, the governor’s office stated.
Cuomo said he would grant the pardons to alleviate barriers to finding employment, getting admitted to college, and credit applications, for former youthful offenders.
He said most of the convictions had been drug-related.
“We spent all of these years believing that if we punished every offender enough without any relief in the future, every crime would disappear,” Cuomo stated. “What we ultimately did was give a life sentence of stigmatization to kids who made a mistake, and drive more people towards crime, because society told them for the rest of their lives that that’s what they were – criminals. This initiative is about validating the personal commitment of people who turned their lives around, and rejected crime in exchange for being a contributing member of society.”
The state said it would do a targeted outreach to find eligible candidates for the pardons, and anyone interested in applying may visit http://www.ny.gov/services/apply-clemency.
The move follows Cuomo’s attempt to pass a “Raise the Age” bill earlier this year, which would have increased the age of criminal responsibility from 16 to 18 for juveniles charged with a crime.
Last summer, the governor also announced executive actions to remove minors from adult state correctional facilities, and have them placed in the juvenile justice system instead.