Commutations Campaign

Survived & Punished NY demonstration, 2018

| What is a commutation?

A commutation of sentence, also known as Executive Clemency, is a reduction or elimination in sentence ordered by a Governor through executive power. In a commutation of sentence, a person is not absolved from a conviction completely, but their sentence is reduced or eliminated.

Commutations are sometimes the only way for many people to be released from prison, especially those with Life Without Parole (LWOP) sentences. Survivors of violence are particularly vulnerable to being punished with what many have called a living death sentence.

| Why are commutations particularly important now?

S&P New York calls on Governor Cuomo to immediately use his clemency powers to free criminalized survivors of gender violence held in prisons in New York. Throughout his time in office, Governor Cuomo has granted pardons to just 163 people, and commuted the sentences of only a dozen people. These numbers are pitifully low compared to the more than 50,000 people held in prisons across New York State. The New York State Constitution grants the governor power to pardon or commute any sentence, at any time, for any reason. Our campaign calls on Governor Cuomo to use the powers of his office to immediately free criminalized survivors of gender violence! Join the S&P New York campaign here.

By the end of his term, 283 people were commuted by former Governor Jerry Brown. This is significant compared to 1-2 people commuted per term by past Governors since the 1960s.  With our allies, California Coalition for Women Prisoners (CCWP), the statewide California S&P team is building on this opportunity to release as many people as possible during Gov. Newsom’s administration. We want to see commutations in the thousands! Take action here.

S&P New York and CCWP also released crucial Clemency & Parole Guides to help guide survivors and others through the process of seeking release from prisons. The video from the webinar, How to Apply for Commutations & AB2845, produced by S&P California and partners, is also available.

Want to learn more? Check out S&P blog posts about the commutations campaigns.

Valerie Seeley expresses her commitment to helping other women criminalized for survival and asking Gov. Cuomo to grant more clemencies. Valerie Seeley is a survivor of domestic violence and was granted clemency and released from Bedford Hills Correctional Facility in 2017 after serving 17 years in prison for defending her life from her abusive husband.
Anoop Prasad greets Ny Nourn upon her release from ICE detention.

| Why is this important for criminalized survivors of violence?

The vast majority of people in women’s prisons, and many in men’s prisons, are survivors of domestic and sexual violence. Survivors are criminalized while attempting to navigate dangerous conditions of abuse and coercion. Prisons and detention centers perpetuate cycles of violence through the “abuse to prison” pipeline and because they are themselves sites of systematic gendered violence. This must end. One crucial step for ending the criminalization of survival is fighting for the freedom of criminalized survivors, including survivors sentenced to die in prison.

| How can I support the campaigns?

  • Take action steps shared by the #FreeThemNY and #FreeThemCA campaigns.
  • Circulate these Clemency & Parole guides.
  • Donate to support our efforts and help cover printing costs for postcards and trips to visit and build coalitions with imprisoned survivors in New York and California.


Support the #FreeThemNY campaign

  • Send an email to tell Governor Cuomo: Grant Clemency for ALL Criminalized Survivors.

  • Call-in campaigns, also known as “phone zaps,” are one of many tools to directly let public officials and others know what you want them to do or to stop doing. Call the numbers below and use this sample script.

    • Office of Governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo:  518-474-8343 or 212-681-7753
    • Counsel to the Governor, Zach Knaub: 212-681-7753
    • Executive Clemency Bureau: (518) 457-7565


More details at

Grassroots support helped secure commutations for the following incarcerated survivors in California: Tammy GarvinBarbara Chavez, Kelly Ann Savage, Christina Martinez, and Gabriela Solano! Also, Tammy, Barbara, Kelly, and Lynn Noyes have all been granted parole!  Keep the movement going by taking the following steps: