Pataki the Grinch: No Clemencies This Year

New York Governor George Pataki granted no clemencies this year to state inmates.

Traditionally, it is during the Christmas season that Mr. Pataki grants clemency, which he has done 31 times. This year, Mr. Pataki looked over several petitioners' cases but decided that none merited clemency.

With all the non-violent prisoners serving draconian sentences under the Rockefeller drug laws, it's hard to believe he couldn't find a few worthy of mercy. The marginal revisions to the law passed last month are no excuse. Only 400 prisoners are expected to be eligible for early release.

According to this 2002 Human Rights Watch Report, children are the hidden casualties of the Rockefeller drug laws:

  • An estimated 23,537 children currently have parents in New York prisons convicted of drug charges.
  • An estimated 11,113 currently incarcerated New York drug offenders are parents of children.
  • Since 1980, an estimated 124,496 children have had at least one parent imprisoned in New York on drug charges.
  • Some 50 percent of mothers and fathers in New York prisons for drug convictions do not receive visits from their children."

That Gov. Pataki could not find a few parents to send home to these children only means he didn't look hard enough.

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