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Morning Spew

Kathy Hochul Is Helping the Bills, But Not the Ones That Will Assist Wrongfully Convicted New Yorkers

New York has the third-highest number of wrongful convictions in the country.

A wrecked dining structure in Manhattan.

Gee I wonder what happened here. (Hell Gate)

Earlier this week, Governor Kathy Hochul took time out of her schedule to direct the State Liquor Authority to make it easier for bars to sell beer on Sunday morning, because the Buffalo Bills are playing a football game in London, England, this weekend.

"Whether you're in the mood for a pint or simply that Bills spirit, we're making sure all Bills fans have options on where to gather and cheer together on Sunday," Hochul said in a statement.

While Bills fans surely appreciate this latest example of the governor using her office to assist her favorite professional sports team, New Yorkers who have languished in prison after being convicted of crimes they did not commit are still waiting for Hochul to use her authority to correct injustices, ones that don't involve getting loaded and watching football.

The Challenging Wrongful Convictions Act passed the state legislature earlier this year, with the goal of making it less difficult for those who have pleaded guilty to a crime they did not commit to be able to prove their innocence. According to the Innocence Project, New York has the third-highest number of wrongful convictions in the country, mostly due to a historically racist prosecutorial system that has few checks on its power. It is virtually impossible for a court to overturn a guilty plea without DNA evidence in New York, and we are one of five states in the country to not give people the right to an attorney post-conviction. To date, at least 303 New Yorkers have been legally exonerated, and this only captures those who were able to successfully challenge their cases. 

If Hochul signs it into law, the act would make it much easier for those who have pled guilty to challenge their convictions with credible evidence, provide a right to post-conviction discovery, exonerate those who have been convicted of crimes that are no longer crimes (like certain drug charges), and make it easier for people to obtain a lawyer after they are convicted and sentenced.

Unsurprisingly, prosecutors and Republicans opposed the bill, and don't want the governor to sign it. "Under the bill, every plea agreement would be subject to challenge years later, when witnesses and evidence would be difficult to obtain," J. Anthony Jordan, the then-president of the District Attorneys Association of New York, said earlier this year.

Hochul's record on criminal justice issues has not been stellar. While the "rolling" clemency process she promised—not merely granting clemency at Christmastime like some Dickensian authority figure, but commuting sentences and pardoning New Yorkers all year round—finally seems to be creaking into existence, Hochul also has presided over more changes to the state's bail reform laws at the behest of reactionary tabloids and bad-faith politicians. 

A spokesperson for the governor told Hell Gate that she was still "reviewing the legislation."

This bill is not the only one Hochul is reviewing. Of the 896 pieces of legislation passed this session, there are still hundreds awaiting the governor's signature, including the Clean Slate Act, which would seal the criminal records of New Yorkers who have served their time. 

Now that Hochul has completed her solemn task of allowing people to buy a bucket of Coronas at 10:00 a.m. on the Sabbath, maybe she can turn her attention to a different set of bills.

These links will not set you free but they're still worth clicking:

And finally, every Starbucks/Amazon Go store should have goats c'mon Uncle Jeff please?

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