Submitted by Sarah on Wed, 01/07/2015 - 08:03.
Former New York Governor Mario Cuomo passed away on New Year’s Day at age 83. He was well known for vetoing reinstatement of the death penalty 12 times – once for every year he was in office.
EJUSA Executive Director Shari Silberstein reflected on this legacy in an op-ed in Newsday this week:
“Today, it is well known that states that impose the death penalty make mistakes, that it is applied unevenly, wastes millions of dollars, distracts from public safety, and puts the families of murder victims through hell. When Mario Cuomo was governor, those truths were heresy.
“But his heresy was prescient.”
Cuomo governed in the late 80s and early 90s, when violent crime – particularly in New York City – was high and the hunger for expanding punishment was even higher. “In the heat of those times,” Shari wrote, “Cuomo could have done what many politicians would do: relent. Or he could have vetoed the bill silently, behind closed doors, in the dead of night, with wringing hands and a sweating brow. But he did the opposite.”