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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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Reformulating Discretion in the Mid-to Late Nineteenth Century

Reformulating Discretion in the Mid-to Late Nineteenth Century

(p.115) 5 Reformulating Discretion in the Mid-to Late Nineteenth Century
Discretionary Justice

Carolyn Strange

NYU Press

The idea that individual failings—moral, physical, and mental—must dictate each criminal’s penal treatment gained currency in penal circles by the late 1800s. Starting in the Elmira Reformatory, prison managers acquired discretion over the release of prisoners and the surveillance of inmates after release, and reports of resounding success earned admiration in international forums. This chapter focuses on the shortcomings that occurred once those ideals were put into practice. Prisoners complained of appraisals by an unaccountable internal review board, and they went public with charges that the Elmira regime was cruel and arbitrary. In response, chief executives used their power to remedy administrative abuse, yet the same governors continued to respond to political pressures and personal ambitions every time they granted or withheld mercy.

Keywords:   parole, penology, reformatories, mercy, pardon, gender, discretion, New York

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