New York

Applicable Form of Executive Clemency: Commutation of Sentence

Executive clemency is granted at the sole discretion of the Governor.

Click here for New York State's Department of Corrections and Community Supervision's webpage regarding executive clemency.

Eligibility: Absent a compelling and exceptional circumstance, a commutation of sentence will be considered only if:

· The inmate's term or minimum period of imprisonment is more than one year

· The inmate has served at least one-half of his or her minimum period of imprisonment

· The inmate will not become eligible for parole within one year of the date of his or her application for commutation

· The inmate is not eligible for release on parole

An eligible applicant who has been notified that his or her application has not been granted may reapply after one year from the date of the notification, unless authorized to do so sooner in the letter informing him or her of an unfavorable decision.

Application Process:

There is no formal application for commutation of sentence, and the applicant is not required to retain an attorney. A written request for commutation of sentence consideration will cause a review and compilation of necessary information conducted by the governor's office to determine eligibility, need for further investigation, scope of any investigation and eventual decision. The full cooperation of the applicant in such a review is required.

Because a commutation of sentence is extraordinary relief, the applicant has the burden of demonstrating, by clear and convincing evidence, that:

  • He or she has, within his or her capabilities, made exceptional strides in self-development and improvement. 
  • He or she has made responsible use of available rehabilitative programs and has addressed treatment needs.
  • Commutation of the sentence is in the interest of justice, consistent with public safety and the rehabilitation of the applicant


  • The inmate is suffering from a terminal illness or has a severe and chronic disability which would be substantially improved by release from prison and that such release is in the interest of justice and consistent with public safety


  • Further incarceration would constitute gross unfairness because of the basic inequities involved.

Applications for commutation of sentence should be made only by the inmate, his or her relative, or by a person representing the inmate. Anyone may submit a recommendation in support of or in opposition to a pending application for commutation. The applicant should forward all materials supporting his or her claim within 30 days of the application. Nothing filed in connection with an application will be returned. The state cannot provide copies. Applicants should keep copies of all papers for personal records. Material in a clemency file is considered confidential and will be made available only at the discretion of the Governor. The name and mailing address of the correspondent should appear on all communication in connection to an application.

In the case of each eligible applicant considered for commutation, the Governor will request:

  • A report from each institution in which the applicant has been incarcerated concerning performance and behavior.
  • A recommendation from the district attorney and the sentencing judge concerning the application.

The Governor may also request medical and psychiatric reports and evaluations and may request the opinion of the Board of Parole. Materials in the executive clemency file will be made available to the Board of Parole when its opinion is sought, for the purpose of making an informed judgment regarding the application.

The Board of Parole is an independent, quasi-judicial body charged with the power and duty of determining which inmates may be released when and under what conditions. Commutation enables an inmate to appear before the Board of Parole for consideration for release on parole at an earlier time than permitted by his or her original sentence.

Applications will be considered, for the most part, in the order in which they were received.

All communications should be addressed to:

The Governor of the State of New York 
Executive Chamber 
State Capitol 
Albany, NY 12224


Director, Executive Clemency Bureau 
New York State Division of Parole 
97 Central Avenue 
Albany, NY 12206
Tel: (518) 485-8953
Fax: (518) 485-8950

Every effort has been made to make this information accurate and up-to-date. Errors are inevitable and changes occur frequently. We would appreciate learning of any errors or inaccuracies regarding any information on this Webpage as soon as possible. Please write to

Last Updated: 06/23/14