Cuomo grants Christmas clemency to 21 people including women locked up for killing abusive partners

Andrew Cuomo granted grace to 21 people on Christmas Eve.
(Getty Images)
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo granted mercy to 21 people, including two women, on Christmas Eve, who killed their abusive partners while they were defending themselves.
Maria Ordonez, 26, was convicted of manslaughter after stabbing her boyfriend, who beat and choked her. After serving six years of a nine-year prison sentence, the governor gave her a commutation. After a childhood of "abuse and neglect", she attended "professional training, computer repair and college courses" while in prison. She received positive judgments for her efforts from her professors and labor inspectors. If she is released, she plans to live with her mother and brother.
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14 of the 21 clemencies were full pardons, and 11 of these pardons will aid recipients' ability to remain in the United States. Four of the pardons are helping recipients become U.S. citizens, and six of the pardons were granted to parents of U.S. citizens. Many of the non-citizens have lived in the United States for several decades.
A statement from the governor's office said those granted grace had shown "substantial evidence of repentance, rehabilitation and community involvement".
Theresa Debo had no history of previous crimes when she was convicted of murder in 2006 for shooting and killing her boyfriend. Archives from The Syracuse Post Standard say the 64-year-old was afraid she might die when her boyfriend broke out drunk. The governor's statement states that Ms. Debo grew up in "an abusive family environment", that she was placed in foster care, and that she "drove in and out of abusive relationships throughout her adult life." She served 16 years of a 22-year prison term before her sentence was commuted.
Mr. Cuomo said the law should be "just and compassionate" and that the clemencies "are another step towards a fairer and more compassionate New York City".
Rosario Pena was convicted of theft and attempted robbery in 1981 and 1986 after being forced to commit the crimes by sex traffickers. The governor's statement reads: "After a childhood marked by abuse, homelessness and years of victimization by traffickers," the 61-year-old has been on the right-wing side of the law for 34 years. Her pardon will enable her "to stay in the United States, where she has lived for more than 50 years".
According to the statement, one of the commutation recipients will be deported when released. Jacinto Cedeno, 55, was convicted in 1996 of criminally selling and possessing a controlled substance and served 15 years of his 38.5 to 50 years imprisonment. "He will be deported to the Dominican Republic, his home country, and reunited with his family," the statement said.
The US criminal justice system controls nearly seven million people, 2.3 million of whom are in prison. According to the Prison Policy Initiative, 3.6 million are on parole and another 840,000 are on parole. "Over 600,000 people enter prison gates each year, but they go to prison 10.6 million times each year," writes According to a 2018 report, the US has 698 people per 100,000 population. That puts America at the top of the global list.
Clifton Williamson was convicted of murder, despite not being the one to pull the trigger. He was also convicted of criminal possession of a controlled substance. The 43-year-old committed the crimes when he was 18 and spent 25 years in prison. His sentence was commuted by Governor Cuomo. After an abusive upbringing, he became homeless at the age of 17. While in detention, Mr. Williamson earned multiple degrees, started a tutoring program, and co-founded a theater company. He also competed against debate teams from Harvard, Brown, and Vermont University.
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Andrew Cuomo

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