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Former NY State Senator Abate, dead at 66

Stephon Johnson | 5/19/2014, 4:40 p.m.

The political world in New York State continues to mourn the death of Catherine Abate.

Abate, a former New York State Senator passed away last Saturday night at Bellevue Hospice Care after a long battle with uterine cancer. She served as a state senator from 1994 to 1998 representing parts of Manhattan, and she ran for State Attorney General afterwards. Abate also served as commissioner for the city departments of corrections and probation under former Mayor David Dinkins.

New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer released a statement commenting on Abate's contributions and legacy.

"As Commissioner of the Departments of Correction and Probation, Catherine took on significant challenges with focused, smart solutions, addressing our City’s high recidivism rates with job training programs and educational opportunities for the formally incarcerated," said Stringer. "During her tenure, she instituted measures to control jail overcrowding and inmate violence was dramatically reduced.

Abate professional life began as an attorney for the Legal Aid Society in New York City. She'd eventually be appointed by then New York State Gov. Mario Cuomo to serve as Executive Deputy Commissioner of the New York State Division of Human Rights in 1986. Two years later, she would chair the New York State Crime Victims Board.

As a member of the Dinkins' administration, she served as Commissioner of the New York City departments of Correction and Probation. As a state senator, Abate was the ranking Democrat on the Crime Victims, Crime and Correction Committee and the Investigations and Government Operations Committee.

Abate lectured frequently on human rights, criminal justice and health care. She served on the several boards including the New York City Board of Corrections, Eleanor Roosevelt Legacy Committee, Citizen Action of New York City and New York State NARAL.

"Catherine brought that same passion and determination to public office in the state senate, and later as the President and CEO of Community Healthcare Network, where she continued a tradition of protecting and improving the lives of our most vulnerable New Yorkers," said Stringer in his statement. "Catherine has left an indelible mark on New York City and New York State. She will be missed."

Abate is survived by her husband, Ronald Kliegerman, and son, Kyle Kliegerman.