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Two New York women locked up for killing their abusive partners got an early Christmas present Thursday, as Gov. Andrew Cuomo granted them and 19 other convicted criminals clemency.
The women — Theresa Debo and Maria Ordonez — each had their sentences commuted by the governor.
“In New York, we believe the law should be just, as well as compassionate,” Cuomo said in a statement.
“Those receiving sentence commutations have undergone a successful rehabilitation, demonstrated true remorse for their actions and shown themselves to be worthy of a chance to re-enter society.”
Both women had nightmarish childhoods filled with harm and neglect, the governor’s office said in a statement.
Throughout her adult life, Debo, now 64, cycled in and out of abusive relationships, including with the man she was convicted of shooting and killing in 2006.
The Central New York woman maintained that she feared for her life and acted in self-defense during one of his drunken outbursts.
She was handed a sentence of 22 years to life — of which she has already served 16.
Ordonez, meanwhile, was just 20 when she killed her abusive boyfriend as he was beating and choking her.
She was convicted of manslaughter in the first degree in 2018, and has since served six out of her nine-year sentence.
The women were among seven people who had their lengthy prison sentences chopped down by the governor.
A Vietnam vet, Arnold Raimondo, 70, has spent nearly 40 years behind bars after being convicted of murder in the second degree and criminal possession of a weapon in 1983 and sentenced to 50 years to life.
Raimondo enlisted at just 17 and “upon return, he suffered from PTSD that manifested itself in destructive behavior,” the statement said.
Clifton Williamson, now 43, will also be cut loose after completing 25 years out of the 25 year-to-life sentence for crimes committed in 1996 and 1997.
At just 18, he was convicted of murder, despite not having been the one who pulled the trigger.
Fourteen people were pardoned of crimes including petit larceny, attempted robbery, forgery and the criminal sale or possession of a controlled substance, with several facing the prospect of deportation without a pardon.
Cuomo, a third-term Democrat, typically pardons incarcerated New Yorkers around the end of the year.
His gesture also follows a slew of controversial clemencies granted by President Donald Trump’s earlier this week, his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, political consultant Roger Stone and disgraced former US Rep. Chris Collins who was convicted of insider trading charges.
Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, prison rights advocates have pressured the Cuomo administration to authorize additional pardons for older inmates and immune compromised individuals, as the state prison system has experienced a series of outbreaks.
Concerning outbreaks among prisoners and staff have shut down visitation at a slew of prisons across the state, including those housing some of the Empire State’s most dangerous criminals in maximum security facilities like Attica Correctional and Wende Correctional near Buffalo, and Clinton Correctional in Dannemora near the Canadian border.
Earlier this spring the governor granted the release of over 1,000 low-level parole violators citing infection concerns.
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