Commutations Granted on Rolling Basis to Individuals Demonstrating Remorse, Rehabilitation and Commitment to Their Communities
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today granted clemency to three individuals who have demonstrated substantial evidence of rehabilitation and a commitment to their communities.
"In New York we believe in giving a second chance to deserving individuals who have demonstrated remorse and undergone successful rehabilitation," Governor Cuomo said. "With this action we are saying once again that the Empire State values fairness and compassion in our criminal justice system, providing these New Yorkers with an opportunity to support their families and contribute to their communities. I thank the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and the organization FAMM for their partnership in facilitating pro bono representation for clemency applicants and the dedicated volunteer lawyers who take on these cases without compensation."
The Governor fully commuted the sentences of two individuals and reduced the sentence of one individual. While in custody, these three individuals have successfully availed themselves of the rehabilitative and educational opportunities offered by their respective institutions.
Freddie Harris, 61, has served 15 and a half years out of a 17 years to life sentence for two counts of Burglary in the Second Degree. Mr. Harris committed two burglaries in 2004 in which no one was injured. While in prison, Mr. Harris has participated in Narcotics Anonymous, has earned his GED, and has taken several semesters of college courses through Genesee Community College. He has also completed extensive vocational training and participated in technology training programs on subjects such as computer hardware and software. He will live with his brother and has an offer of employment upon his release.
Juan Serrano, 58, has served 22 and a half years out of a 35 years to life sentence for three counts of Burglary in the Second Degree and one count of Robbery in the Second Degree. He was convicted in 2000 for his role in a series of burglaries for which he expresses strong remorse. Mr. Serrano has demonstrated substantial evidence of rehabilitation. He not only completed substance abuse treatment, but was selected as a lead facilitator for substance abuse counseling for other incarcerated individuals. While in prison Mr. Serrano earned his GED and has completed vocational classes in plumbing, electrical work, masonry, carpentry and welding. He has served as housing coordinator, program aide, supervisor of inventory, chaplain aide and leader of commissary for the Latinos en Progreso group. Upon his release, Mr. Serrano will live with his wife in Brooklyn and work as a bible study teacher.
Teara Fatico, 30, has served more than 8 and a half years of a 13 year sentence for Attempted Burglary in the First Degree. In 2011 Ms. Fatico facilitated her boyfriend's entry into an apartment so that he could rob the occupant. During the crime, Ms. Fatico's boyfriend and the victim had a physical altercation that resulted in the victim's death. Ms. Fatico was not present in the apartment during the altercation. She cooperated and testified against her boyfriend who was convicted of murder. While in prison Ms. Fatico has worked toward her Associate's degree and has volunteered in the prison's infant care center. Ms. Fatico has been granted a reduction in her sentence from 13 years to 11 years, which will make her eligible for release in 2021.
Individuals interested in applying for clemency should visit Governor Cuomo's clemency website. The website is a central resource for those seeking to learn more about clemency, eligibility requirements and the application process, including submitting application materials electronically. Family members and friends of individuals serving prison sentences are encouraged to visit the website and apply for clemency on behalf of their family member or friend, or to send in support letters for loved ones who have applied themselves.
Guided by its mission, the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision is committed to preparing individuals for release and reentry into the community in part through a number of academic, vocational and therapeutic programs offered in DOCCS facilities across the state. Currently, 21 colleges operate on-site in 30 facilities, offering associate's, bachelor's and master's degree programs in a number of areas of study. Additionally, through DOCCS' vocational and industrial programs, individuals can gain training, certification and even licensing in areas such as cosmetology and barbering, electrical trades, plumbing and heating, welding, computer information technology, optical technology, abatement services, and ServSafe Culinary Certification, among several others. Individuals are also provided rehabilitative opportunities through many different programs such as Puppies Behind Bars, a privately funded non-profit organization that trains incarcerated individuals to become puppy-raisers to raise service dogs for wounded veterans and first responders, and explosive detection canines for law enforcement; and Rehabilitation Through the Arts, a creative arts program in which individuals can participate in programs encompassing visual arts, music, film, theater, dance, creative writing, and voice.
Since the Governor took office, New York has closed 15 prisons - more than any governor in state history - and reduced the number of people in state custody by over 30%. In fact, these measures have resulted in 17,602 fewer men and women behind bars, making New York the least incarcerative and safest large state in the country. As of June 15, 2020, the total incarcerated population in state correctional facilities was 38,817, representing both a total reduction of over 5,000 individuals since January 1 of this year and the lowest total incarcerated population in New York State prisons since 1986.
Throughout the COVID-19 public health emergency, the Department has implemented early release opportunities for individuals that are based on individualized reviews that ensure each person is connected to the services and support that they need to succeed in the community, such as housing and health care. To date, these actions have resulted in the release of 1,861 individuals, including 791 individuals who have had their low-level parole violations cancelled; 1,062 individuals who were committed on non-violent, non-sex offenses and were within 90 days of their earliest release date; and 8 women who were pregnant or postpartum, committed on non-violent, non-sex offenses, and were within 180 days of their earliest release date.