NY Governor Cuomo seeks to pardon thousands who committed crimes as teens

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks during an event on World AIDS Day at the Apollo Theater in New York, Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2015. New York state will dedicate $200 million more to its $2.5 billion effort to end the AIDS epidemic by 2020. It is already reporting significant milestones: no new cases of mother-to-child transmission were reported in the past year, the first time that's happened since the epidemic began. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

ALBANY, N.Y. (WIVB) — Governor Andrew Cuomo is seeking to pardon thousands of New Yorkers convicted of either misdemeanors or non-violent felonies as teenagers.

Cuomo’s office says “approximately 10,000 people will be impacted” and that around 350 people will become eligible for pardoning each year.

The pardons will affect people who have not been convicted of a crime in 10 years.

“We spent all of these years believing that if we punished every offender enough without any relief in the future, every crime would disappear,” said Governor Cuomo. “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.”

Anyone who seeks a pardon can apply through Cuomo’s website here. The Governor’s administration will also be seeking out candidates for pardoning.

Soffiyah Elijah, Executive Director of the Correctional Association of New York, said, “I am excited that the Governor has taken it upon himself to do his part in ending the injustice of treating young boys and girls as adults in the court system. As Co-Chair of the Commission on Youth, Public Safety and Justice, I have seen the dire need to rectify this problem which has for so long kept our state behind the times in criminal justice. Now, with this action in addition, we are moving in the right direction and giving a chance for redemption for a group of people who have unequivocally earned it.”

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