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Discretionary JusticePardon and Parole in New York from the Revolution to the Depression$
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Carolyn Strange

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781479899920

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479899920.001.0001

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Governing Mercy in the Emerging Republic

Governing Mercy in the Emerging Republic

(p.17) 1 Governing Mercy in the Emerging Republic
Discretionary Justice

Carolyn Strange

NYU Press

When the Revolution transformed New York from a British colony into a state a question arose: what would republican justice entail? This chapter reveals that the bloody code continued to operate for the first two decades of the state’s history. The first constitution, of 1777, assigned authority to the legislature to pardon in cases of murder and treason, which required the governor to share his discretionary powers with legislators. The first governor, George Clinton, was a military as well as a political leader who granted pardons and military paroles for tactical purposes as a tool of war. In the early republic Clinton urged the adoption of Enlightenment principles of mildness and certainty in punishment, but legislators resisted until 1796, when New York’s penitentiary era began.

Keywords:   American Revolution, criminal justice, bloody code, Enlightenment, pardon, military parole, New York

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