Incoming House Democratic Reps. Lucy McBath (OH), Ana Navarro (TX), Darren Soto (FL), and Rep. Alex Mooney (WV) on Wednesday urged former Vice President Joe Biden to intervene on their behalf as the five black and Latino New York City inmates have been denied commutation or pardons under former New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.
“Since Mayor de Blasio took office, 5 NYC inmates who committed crimes before they were adults, who are now in their mid-twenties, have been denied commutation and yet again been denied pardons by our former President Obama,” Navarro told the Judiciary Committee on Wednesday. “We believe these are the innocents who have been caught up in our broken immigration system and deserve clemency.”
Soto added, “These aren’t people who should be incarcerated. The children need their fathers and the mothers need their husbands, and the people that we represent—being members of Congress, we feel this is an issue that should be of the highest concern to this committee and other committees across this country.”
According to the Sentencing Project, as of March 2018, a total of 13,809 black and Latino New Yorkers are currently serving federal sentences that violate federal statutes or the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution that limit cruel and unusual punishment.
The bipartisan members of Congress were responding to a letter delivered to their offices Wednesday asking the Committee to act on behalf of the 4 young men. The lawmakers were then asked to convey their commitment to working with the Commission on Human Rights of the UN in New York to bring new attention to the wrongful convictions of black and Latino individuals in New York City jails who committed crimes before they were adults.
Biden has previously spoken about the man behind the letters, Jamel Dunn, at length. Dunn’s story has been previously covered by Fox News and has influenced Biden’s daughter Elizabeth to join the chorus of those on the Hill calling for a clemency hearing for Dunn.
Tommy Christopher contributed to this report.