NAACP Commends Gov. Paterson’s Courageous Decision to Commute Sentence of John White

The NAACP commends New York Governor David Paterson on his decision to grant clemency to John White.

“Our hearts go out to the Cicciaro family for the loss of their loved one. The events the night of August 9 in 2006 can only be described as tragic. This is a time for healing and forgiveness,” stated NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous. “We commend Governor Paterson for demonstrating the courage to ensure the government’s response to this tragic situation is both just and fair. This act of commutation shows the value of local people getting involved, raising their voice for justice and keeping the faith. We are indebted to the leadership of Hazel Dukes, President of the NAACP’s New York State Conference of Branches and the stalwart leaders of our Long Island branches,” Jealous said.

“Governor Paterson is to be commended for this courageous decision,” stated New York State Conference President Hazel Dukes. “The Long Island regional branches have stood by Mr. White and his family from the beginning. This is the essence of the NAACP’s criminal justice work – ensuring that every person is treated equally under the eyes of the law and advocating for justice, no matter how long it takes, “ President Dukes said


White was convicted of manslaughter following a confrontation on August 9, 2006. White’s son had warned him that a group of teenagers was on their way to his home to “kill” White’s son and attack his family. When the teenagers arrived, White confronted them in his driveway, carrying a handgun for protection. The teenagers yelled racial slurs and one of them lunged for White’s gun, which went off, killing the teenager.

White was convicted of second-degree manslaughter and third-degree weapons violations, and sentenced to two to four years in prison. The sentence was reduced from an original sentence of five to 15 years based on White’s lack of prior arrests and his record of honesty. White recently lost an appeal bid to the New York State Supreme Court.

The New York State Conference and the Long Island branches of the NAACP have for a long time advocated for White to receive a fair sentence. NAACP branch leaders from the Long Island region attended every one of White’s trials, and on after the trial, the New York State Conference passed a resolution calling upon Governor Paterson to intervene.

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