Gov. Cuomo’s Pedestal For Criminals Is Offensive

Gov. Cuomo has a lot of bad habits— ignoring New York’s unbearable taxes, governing with historic levels of secrecy and chasing headlines at the expense of residents are but a few— however, treating convicted felons better than hard-working, law-abiding citizens may be the most offensive. His most recent stunt, unilaterally deciding parolees should have the right to vote, fits a disturbing pattern of prioritizing hardened criminals and exhibiting a gross lack of judgement.
 
The governor has done his best to facilitate a pro-criminal mentality in New York State. He has made public pushes for free college tuition and new computer tablets for inmates. The State Parole Board, the majority of whose members are appointed by Cuomo, recently voted to allow a cop-killer walk free. In 2016, he inexplicably commuted the sentence of domestic terrorist Judith Clark, despite her role in a heist that left three dead.
 
On Wednesday, Cuomo announced an Executive Order to restore the voting rights of parolees. His desperate attempt to pander to his liberals is transparent, and quite frankly, irresponsible. Executive Orders have no place being used as partisan weapons. Sadly, that’s exactly what Andrew Cuomo is using them for as he faces a formidable primary challenger in Cynthia Nixon and growing pressure from left-wing voters.

THE PROCESS IS THE PROBLEM
 
The Legislature placed these voting restrictions on parolees for a reason. Murderers, rapists, violent abusers, and drug pushers all made a choice to break the law. They gave up certain rights when they disregarded the rights of their victims. They should pay their debt to society in full before voting rights are restored. 
 
It’s painfully obvious Gov. Cuomo hastily generated a policy to pander to voters. Governing through Executive Order and by press release is weak. It completely disregards public input and review. It sends a bad message to both the Legislature and residents of the state who expect rigorous vetting and debate for important policies.
 
Parolees, who often are restricted in one way or another upon release from prison, must show they are ready to fully reintegrate into society. According to the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, the recidivism rate for violent felony offenders within three years of being released from prison is 46 percent. There are, for good reason, serious concerns about the judgement of those reintegrating.
 
Several states prohibit felons from voting forever. New York already offers felons a chance to participate in elections once the full term of their sentence has been completed, but Gov. Cuomo took it upon himself to erode electoral law for personal gain. His pattern of placing criminals on a pedestal for political purposes is bad for New Yorkers, bad for public safety, bad for democracy and unbecoming of his office.
  
What do you think?  I want to hear from you. Send me your feedback, suggestions and ideas regarding this or any other issue facing New York State. You can always contact my district office at (315) 781-2030, email me at kolbb@nyassembly.gov, find me by searching for Assemblyman Brian Kolb on Facebook, and follow me on Twitter.

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