Clemency means forgiveness or leniency in judgment; to show mercy. A commutation of sentence (a form of executive clemency) reduces an incarcerated person’s current sentence. Please support clemency for Patrick Stephens. Patrick is in his 23rd year of a 25 year to life sentence for murder, committed in 1995 when he was only 22 years old. Although a first time violent offender, he was sentenced the maximum time possible for second-degree murder; the minimum being 15 years.
Patrick's quest for personal growth and demonstrated commitment to helping others unquestionably meets the criteria the State has used to define those worthy of clemency - he “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” See Apply for Clemency, Commutations, available at http://www.ny.gov/services/apply-clemency (last visited April 4, 2020). With the strong support of his family, he has a reentry plan in place that will set him up for success upon his release.
Patrick is now 47 years old. He has made remarkable strides while in prison, including earning his Associate’s Degree and Bachelor's Degree from Bard College. And as of September 2020, he earned his Master’s Degree from New York Theological Seminary. He has received certificates and licenses in approximately 20 programs, learned (and is now fluent in) Spanish, and is a member of the Bard Debate Union.
In addition to his educational growth, Patrick has dedicated his time to helping other incarcerated individuals, including those with HIV and AIDS. Patrick has participated in several programs that helped reframe his way of thinking about conflict resolution and communicating with others. Beyond this, he has facilitated and developed programs and workshops on behalf of other incarcerated men, displaying a pattern of community commitment.
Most importantly, Patrick has learned what he did not know when he was just 22—that violence and taking a life is never the answer to resolve conflict. He takes full responsibility for his actions and is sorry for the life lost and the pain he caused to his victim’s family. A common theme in the numerous letters of support written on Patrick's behalf is one of growth, change, and maturity. The letters speak of his change in thinking, calm and thoughtful demeanor, and encouragement and mentorship of others—a far cry from the rebellious, impulsive 22 year-old who committed the offense. The fact that so many people felt compelled to write letters is a testament to his character.
Patrick has clearly demonstrated he is remorseful and willing to live up to his potential to be a valued member of society. With his educational achievements during his incarceration, there is minimal risk of repeated offense and recidivism. His family and contacts in the academic community will provide an extensive support network, further reducing the risk. Further incarceration no longer serves any purpose for the People of New York. Therefore, in the interest of justice and reform, Patrick Stephens should be granted clemency.
Until We Reckon - Danielle Sered
The Redemption Project with Van Jones