NY takes strides in clemency reform as Hochul grants 13 pardons and commutations

September 12, 2023 Rob Abruzzese
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Gov. Kathy Hochul granted clemency to 13 individuals last week, a move she claims underscores her commitment to rethinking and reforming the clemency process.

This recent action, which consists of 10 pardons and three commutations, aims to recognize those who have shown genuine remorse, demonstrated rehabilitation, and exhibited a clear commitment to bettering themselves and their surrounding communities, she said.

These decisions come as a continuation of Gov. Hochul’s commitment to not limit clemency grants to year-end reviews but to address them on a rolling basis.

“Clemency is one of the most solemn responsibilities given to a governor,” Hochul said, emphasizing her dedication since taking office to improving the process through the initiation of a new advisory panel.

Gov. Hochul’s commitment goes beyond the advisory panel. Her administration has increased staffing resources for application reviews, ensuring that each application receives the due consideration it merits. In efforts to promote transparency and better communication with applicants, the Executive Clemency Bureau has begun sending regular letters updating applicants on the status of their requests and guiding them on how to augment their applications with supporting documentation.

An updated online hub provides clemency applicants with enhanced guidance, including template application forms for both pardons and commutations.

The Governor has also convened an impartial Clemency Advisory Panel. This panel’s recommendations have played an instrumental role in the recent clemency grants, ensuring that each decision is based on a comprehensive review by experts in the field.

In response to the governor’s decision, advocates from the Release Aging People in Prison Campaign (RAPP) have expressed their relief for the affected families and communities. Jose DiLenola, the Clemency Campaign director of RAPP, acknowledged the importance of these clemency decisions while emphasizing the need for continued action.

“We welcome home the incarcerated New Yorkers granted commutations and share in the sigh of relief for those granted pardons,” said Jose DiLenola, Clemency Campaign Director of RAPP.

“All of these New Yorkers have done critical work to uplift their families and communities. Many other incarcerated New Yorkers are equally deserving of clemency. Our hearts break for them and their families, who did not receive good news today. We double down on our commitment to keep fighting for their freedom.

“To that end, we call on Governor Hochul to grant far more clemencies and continue fulfilling her commitment to grant them on an ongoing basis,” DiLenola said.

Since her inauguration, Gov. Hochul has granted 43 clemencies, with a transparent process that keeps applicants informed. Advocacy groups, including RAPP, have been pushing for such reforms and transparency, as evidenced by their #HochulBringThemHome Campaign.

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