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Former NY state Sen Abate dead at 66

Stephon Johnson | 5/29/2014, 2:04 p.m.

The political world in New York continues to mourn the death of former New York state Sen. Catherine Abate.

Abate passed away on May 17 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 afterward. Abate also served as commissioner for New York City’s Department of Correction and Department of 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 formerly incarcerated. During her tenure, she instituted measures to control jail overcrowding, and inmate violence was dramatically reduced,” said Stringer.

Abate began her professional life as an attorney for the Legal Aid Society in New York City. She’d eventually be appointed by then New York 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 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 several boards, including the New York City Board of Corrections, Eleanor Roosevelt Legacy Committee, Citizen Action of New York City and NARAL Pro-Choice New York.

“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.