NAACP Commends Governor Paterson’s Courageous Decision to Commute Sentence of John White
Governor David Paterson
African American father received two to four years after defending family and home
(Suffolk County, NY) – The NAACP commends New York Governor David Paterson on his decision to grant clemency to John White.
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.
“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.
“Our hearts go out to the Cicciaro family for the loss of their loved one. The events of August 9th, 2006 can only be described as tragic. That tragedy has been compounded by the decision to imprison a dedicated father for defending his family and home from attack by an angry group of people that intended to do them harm,” stated NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous.
“The right of self defense is foundational to our nation’s systems of rights and laws,” continued Jealous. “Our laws belong to all Americans, regardless of color, ethnicity, or national origin. We commend Governor Patterson 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.”
Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation’s oldest and largest civil rights organization. Its members throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities, conducting voter mobilization and monitoring equal opportunity in the public and private sectors.