Mar 10, 2010

A Governor's Pardon Recognizes Redemption

At the December Task Force meeting, retired Judge Corriero told Task Force members the story of Qing Hong Wu, a young man who appeared in front of him at the Manhattan Youth Court where youth are tried as adults for certain felonies under New York State law. The story was later reported on in the New York Times article, "Judge Keeps His Word to Immigrant who Kept His." Qing Hong Wu, who immigrated legally from China, plead guilty to participating in a string of muggings. While sentencing him to three to nine years in a reformatory, the judge "urged him to use his sentence as a chance to turn his life around" and promised that if he did that, "I am here to stand behind you." Qing Hong internalized the judge's words, and was released in three years. Upon reentering society, he supported his mother by working his way up to Vice President for Internet technology at a national company. Though now a model citizen, his former crimes made him a mandatory deportee under immigration laws. Nearly fifteen years later, he came to the attention of authorities while applying for citizenship, and was locked up as a "criminal alien," and subject to mandatory deportation. Judge Corriero learned of Wu's detention and imminent removal from the U.S. when Wu wrote him to remind him of his promise. Judge Corriero wrote a letter to to the governor in support of Mr. Wu, and human rights organizations advocated for his release.

The story has a happy, but rare ending. On March 6, the New York Times reported that Governor Patterson pardoned Mr. Wu in the article, "Paterson Rewards Redemption With a Pardon." Upon learning of the pardon, Corriero commented "is the beginning of the recognition that young people should be permitted to recover from their mistakes."

At the Task Force, our partners work to give all former offenders this opportunity, to be "permitted to recover from their mistakes."