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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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Mercy and Diversity

Mercy and Diversity

The Pardon Power in the Early National Period

(p.39) 2 Mercy and Diversity
Discretionary Justice

Carolyn Strange

NYU Press

This chapter shows how mercy regularly modified punishment, albeit in ways that reinforced racial and social hierarchies in the early national period. As the state abolished slavery by increments, the use of pardons to banish slaves who had been found guilty of crimes allowed their sale to persist. Incursions into Indian territory were accompanied by efforts to impose state criminal law, and the use of pardons for non-treaty and treaty Indians gutted Native American sovereignty. The establishment of Newgate and Auburn state prisons created a new category of New Yorker: the inmate, sentenced to unprecedented periods of incarceration, whose hope of an early release depended on the governor’s prerogative to pardon.

Keywords:   mercy, pardon, slavery, race, penitentiaries, Native Americans, discrimination, New York

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