News Release ~ 08/21/2017

National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and Families Against Mandatory Minimums Announce NACDL/FAMM State Clemency Project

Collaborative Efforts Underway with the State of New York 

Washington, DC (Aug. 21, 2017) – The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) and Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM), with support from the Foundation for Criminal Justice (FCJ), announce today a major state-focused clemency initiative, the NACDL/FAMM State Clemency Project, a program designed to help to recruit, train, and provide resource support to pro bono attorneys who will assist state prisoners to submit petitions to have their sentences commuted. Outreach has already begun to several governors' offices across the nation. And Governor Cuomo of New York has just announced a partnership with the NACDL/FAMM State Clemency Project to develop the necessary processes and procedures to enable volunteer lawyers through the project to help prisoners seeking clemency pursuant to the Governor's initiative. The Project will provide logistical support for the governor's initiative, among other ways, by recruiting and training volunteer lawyers to help prisoners apply for clemency. 

"We are committed to provide training and resource support to volunteer lawyers to facilitate a process through which applicants can have access to counsel who can expeditiously submit a petition that makes the case for a second chance," said NACDL Executive Director Norman L. Reimer. "We want the executive authority to see clearly that many offenders have learned from past mistakes and are ready to safely and productively return home." 

"Those individuals who have worked hard to rehabilitate themselves and take responsibility for their mistakes deserve a chance to get out of the penalty box. Their families, communities, and state will be better off with their release," said FAMM President Kevin Ring. "We're excited to work with NACDL and Governor Cuomo on this important initiative and we look forward to partnering in other states." 

"NACDL is proud to build on its experience as a Clemency Project 2014 founding partner in order to make this state-level clemency project a success," said NACDL President Rick Jones. "As a New York City defense attorney, I am especially pleased that Governor Cuomo is taking the lead in this effort. Our goal is to provide many hundreds of applicants with qualified counsel who will submit first-rate petitions. And our hope is that other Governors will launch their own programs, and we pledge to support them. It is long past time to recognize that people can change and that redemption is possible. This program recognizes that fundamental truth." 

This project brings NACDL's and FAMM's collective experience as partners of the federal-level Clemency Project 2014 (CP 2014), to state-level clemency efforts. CP 2014, a partnership that also included the American Bar Association, American Civil Liberties Union and the Federal Public and Community Defenders, provided pro bono legal assistance to prisoners seeking to have their sentences commuted under specific criteria set by the White House. 

Similarly the NACDL/FAMM State Clemency Project will focus on training lawyers to identify eligible prisoners based on criteria provided by participating state executives. Project staff will work with state agencies to devise the most efficient way to connect applicants to volunteers, provide essential applicant information, and submit well-crafted petitions. The Project will have a state-based focus that will respond to the criteria articulated by each governor or state clemency authority, and will rely heavily upon local attorneys, law firms and law clinics. 

If you are interested in volunteering to take on one or more cases through the Project, please visit https://stateclemency.org or contact Project Manager Steven Logan at slogan@nacdl.org

Media Contacts: 

Ivan J. Dominguez, Director of Public Affairs & Communications, NACDL, 202-465-7662, idominguez@nacdl.org 

Rabiah Alicia Burks, Director of Communications, FAMM, 202-999-4258, rburks@famm.org 

Contact

Ivan J. Dominguez, NACDL Director of Public Affairs & Communications, (202) 465-7662 or idominguez@nacdl.org 

The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers is the preeminent organization advancing the mission of the criminal defense bar to ensure justice and due process for persons accused of crime or wrongdoing. A professional bar association founded in 1958, NACDL's many thousands of direct members in 28 countries – and 90 state, provincial and local affiliate organizations totaling up to 40,000 attorneys – include private criminal defense lawyers, public defenders, military defense counsel, law professors and judges committed to preserving fairness and promoting a rational and humane criminal justice system.

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