Find more information on Pardons for Individuals Convicted at Ages 16 & 17 by clicking the Pardons tab.
The Governor of New York has the power to grant clemency in the form of reprieves, commutations, and pardons.
Clemency applications commonly come in two forms: sentence commutations and pardons. In general, a commutation is a sentence reduction and a pardon provides unique relief for individuals who have completed their sentences but remain disadvantaged by their criminal history.
The Executive Clemency Bureau is a unit within the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision that assists the Governor’s Office with clemency applications. The Executive Clemency Bureau receives applications and begins a review process, which includes compiling past criminal and/or inmate records. The Bureau then sends completed applications to the Governor’s Office for review.
Please see below for more information on clemencies and how to apply.
As an alternative to clemency, consider getting your record/conviction sealed. If you have no more than two misdemeanor convictions or one felony and one misdemeanor conviction, you may be eligible to have those convictions sealed after a 10-year waiting period. Sealed Records: After 10 Years (CPL 160.59). Additionally, some drug-related felony and misdemeanor convictions can be conditionally sealed if you have completed a drug treatment program. See if you qualify and learn how to ask the Court to seal your records.Sealed Records: Drug-Related Cases (CPL 160.58).
Pardons provide unique relief for individuals who have completed their sentences but remain disadvantaged by their criminal history. Currently, the Governor is offering two distinct opportunities for a pardon. If you are interested in applying for a pardon, please review the following table and decide which opportunity fits your situation.
|Standard Pardon||Pardon for Convictions at 16 & 17|
A standard pardon is most often granted to:
Unless there are exceptional and compelling circumstances, a standard pardon is not considered if the applicant has other administrative remedies available to them, such as a certificate of good conduct or a certificate of relief from disabilities, pursuant to provisions of Article 23 of the Corrections Law. For applications under (2) and (3), the applicant should demonstrate evidence of rehabilitation.
This pardon is offered to applicants who committed a non-violent crime at age 16 or 17. If you meet all requirements, you are eligible to be recommended for a pardon.
If you receive this pardon, the New York State Office of Court Administration has stated that it will restrict public access to your criminal history, meaning that it will not be available to private employers, landlords or other companies that seek this information.
The seven requirements to be eligible for this pardon are:
RESTORATION OF THE RIGHT TO VOTE FOR NEW YORKERS ON PAROLE
Effective April 18, 2018, individuals being released from incarceration onto parole supervision and individuals who are currently under parole supervision will be given consideration, by the Governor’s Office, for a voting restoration pardon.
Frequently Asked Questions about Governor Cuomo’s Granting of Pardons to Restore the Voting Rights of Individuals under Community Supervision
Q: Who is eligible to be individually reviewed for a voting restoration pardon issued by Governor Cuomo?
A: Candidates who meet the following criteria:
- Convicted of a New York State felony.
- At least 18 years of age.
- Under community supervision by the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision following release from a New York State prison.
- Current residents of New York State.
Q: What factors are considered when reviewing each candidate?
A: The review process will examine each individual, considering a variety of factors, including if the person is living successfully in the community by maintaining required contact with his or her parole officer and remaining at liberty at the time of the review.
CONSIDERATION FOR A VOTING RESTORATION PARDON:
Q: Does a person have to apply for a voting restoration pardon?
A: No, there is no need to apply. The Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS) submits a list of all individuals currently under community supervision to the Governor’s office, and will send a monthly list of individuals released to community supervision during the prior month. Each eligible individual on the list, as defined in question 1, will be considered for a voting restoration pardon.
Q: If a person does not receive a voting restoration pardon, is there an opportunity for another review based on changed circumstances?
A: Yes, individuals who were not recommended for a pardon will have their cases reviewed periodically, and may be recommended for a pardon at a later date. This will happen automatically and there is no need to request reconsideration.
EFFECT OF PARDON
Q: What rights does the voting restoration pardon restore?
A: The pardon restores the right to vote in elections held in New York State. It neither restores other rights nor removes other exclusions or disabilities. Additionally, it is neither a remission of guilt nor forgiveness for an offense.
Q: What elections are covered by the voting restoration pardon?
A: The pardon restores the right to vote in any election held in New York State for any issue or office – local, state, or federal – that the election covers.
Q: Is an individual who receives a voting restoration pardon automatically able to vote?
A: The right to vote is automatically restored when the pardon is issued, but the person must register to vote like any other individual in a New York State election, and cannot vote if he or she is not registered. Registration to vote can be completed online through the Department of Motor Vehicles website, or through a paper form submitted in person or by mail to an individual’s county board of elections. Pardon recipients will be provided paper registration forms from their parole officers, along with the location of the registration office.
Q: How will an individual under community supervision be notified that he or she has received a pardon restoring his or her right to vote?
A: Once granted, parole officers will hand deliver voting restoration pardons to individuals under their supervision, along with a voter registration form and the location of the registration office. A person can also look up his or her name using the Parolee Lookup feature of the DOCCS website, and see if they have been granted a conditional voting pardon, which will be noted on the lookup.
Q: How will the Board of Election in each New York State jurisdiction know if an individual under community supervision has received a voting restoration pardon?
A: The Boards of Election are currently notified when someone has had their right to vote taken away through a sentence of incarceration for a felony. When an individual who has lost their right to vote in this way later seeks to register to vote, the Board will look up that person in the Parolee Lookup feature of the DOCCS website to see if he or she has received the voting restoration pardon.
Q: Can the voting restoration pardon be revoked?
A: Yes, the pardon is conditional, and can be revoked if the person is re-incarcerated in New York State prison as a result of a finding of a violation of community supervision (a parole violation) or as a result of a conviction for a new felony.
Q: Will the Board of Elections be notified of individuals who have had their voting restoration pardon revoked?
A: Yes, they will be notified. Also, the pardon indication will be removed from that individual’s displayed record in the Parolee Lookup of the DOCCS website.
Perspectives on Voting Rights
A commutation of sentence is a form of executive clemency that reduces an inmate’s current sentence. The Governor may commute a sentence in any way that he considers appropriate. A sentence may be reduced to allow an inmate to be released immediately or on a specific date.
Except for extraordinary circumstances, a commutation of sentence will be considered only if the inmate meets the following eligibility criteria:
- The inmate's minimum period of imprisonment is more than one year;
- The inmate has served at least one-half of his or her minimum prison term; and
- The inmate is not eligible for parole within one year of the date of his or her application for clemency.
The following guidance has been developed to assist applicants for commutation of sentence in further understanding the nature and scope of executive clemency review. Clemency is a matter within the sole discretion of the Governor. While compliance with this guidance is encouraged, it does not entitle an applicant to clemency.
A commutation of sentence is an extraordinary form of relief. Accordingly, the applicant has the strong burden of demonstrating that he/she:
- Has made exceptional strides in self-development and improvement; has made responsible use of available rehabilitative programs; has addressed identified treatment needs; and the commutation is in the interest of justice, consistent with public safety and the rehabilitation of the applicant;
- Is suffering from a terminal illness or has a severe and chronic disability that would be substantially mitigated by release from prison, and the release is in the interest of justice and consistent with public safety;
- Further incarceration would constitute gross unfairness because of the basic inequities involved.
If an eligible applicant has been notified that no action will be taken on his or her application at this time, the applicant may reapply one year after the date of notification unless authorized to do so sooner.
Interested applicants should apply for either a pardon or commutation and submit their entire completed application package to the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision Executive Clemency Bureau as outlined below.
- Fill out a pardon request form.
- Requirement information (see table) for both types of pardons can be found by clicking the Pardons tab on the left.
- Write a letter describing the applicant’s need for a pardon and examples of rehabilitation and provide positive accomplishments since his or her conviction (for example: program completion, community involvement, educational achievements, employment history and volunteer service).
- Provide proof of such accomplishments where applicable (for example: certificates of completion, commendation letters, proof of degrees attained, etc.). If you intend to seek a pardon to prevent deportation, please submit copies of court documents or hearing notices sent by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
- Optional: Provide letters of support from family, friends or community members.
Note on Voting Restoration Pardons: Unlike commutations, and other pardons, there is no application or process for applying for a pardon specifically to acquire voting rights while under parole supervision. The Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS) submits a list of all individuals currently under community supervision to the Governor’s office, and will send a monthly list of individuals released to community supervision during the prior month. Each eligible individual on the list will be considered for a voting restoration pardon.
- No request form is necessary.
- Write a letter describing the applicant’s need for a commutation and examples of rehabilitation and provide positive accomplishments since his or her conviction (for example: program completion, community involvement, education achievements, employment history and volunteer service).
- Provide proof of such accomplishments (for example: certificates of completion, commendation letters, proof of degrees attained, etc).
- Include the applicant's Social Security number, Departmental Identification Number (DIN) if available, NYSID Number, FBI Number, or Alien Registration Number for immigration cases.
- Optional: Provide letters of support from family, friends or community members.
Please send your application letter and supporting documents to:
New York State
Department of Corrections and Community Supervision
Executive Clemency Bureau
The Harriman State Campus – Building 2
1220 Washington Ave
Albany, NY 12226-2050
Scan and email your application package to the following address: [email protected]
View more information about the clemency review process.
The following organizations provide resources and services related to criminal justice issues. This list is not a comprehensive list of NY organizations who provide resources and services related to criminal justice.
Governor Cuomo Grants Clemency to 61 Individuals, December 27, 2017
Governor Cuomo Grants Pardons, December 31, 2014
Governor Cuomo Announces Pardons, December 31, 2013
Call us Monday to Friday 8:30AM-5:00PM.
Visit the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision website: www.doccs.ny.gov