Patrick Stephens deserves clemency!
Patrick Stephens deserves clemency!
Why this petition matters
This petition was created in 2020 to support the request for clemency that was originally submitted to former Governor Andrew Cuomo in 2018. Patrick’s request was ignored by Cuomo and the Executive Clemency Bureau, but we had high hopes that the new Governor Kathy Hochul would pick up the slack and actually do the clemency work she assured us she would.
Well, Patrick finally presented before the New York State Board of Parole for the first time on February 8, 2022. Patrick has helped SO many men prepare for their own parole board hearings and it was finally his turn. The same reasons he should’ve been granted clemency were presented to the Parole Board. We prayed he wouldn’t experience the perpetual punishment of denied parole and about a week and a half later, we received the confirmation that Patrick was granted parole!
While we were waiting on parole, we were still hopeful that Governor Hochul could and would intervene and still grant Patrick the clemency we’ve been requesting for over 3 years. However, soon after parole was granted, Patrick received the first and only correspondence from the governor stating that because he was granted parole, she no longer has an interest in his clemency request. Bogus, but expected. Patrick will be released on parole on May 18, 2022 and we are so grateful that the Parole Board did what the Governor lacked the courage and compassion to do.
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 24th 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 48 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 the 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.
For additional information about Patrick's experience and achievements, please visit DoingSorry.com. Thank you for your support!