Source Information

New York State Archives
Ancestry.com. New York, Discharges of Convicts, 1882-1915 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014.
Original data: New York (State) Department of State. Discharges of Convicts by Commutation of Sentences, 1883–1913. Series A0604. New York State Archives, Albany, New York.

About New York, Discharges of Convicts, 1882-1915

Beginning with the state's first constitution in 1777, New York state governors have had the authority to grant pardons and reprieves (except in cases of murder or treason). The constitution of 1946 added the authority to commute sentences. A commutation is a form of clemency that does nothing to erase the conviction but alters (typically reducing or eliminating) the penalty.

Governors were required by law to keep registers of all applications for and grants of clemency. This collection includes images of the registers for recording discharges of convicts serving in state prisons who had their sentences commuted and were discharged. (The registers do not include names of inmates whose sentences were not commuted.)

The registers include the name of the convict, county, crime, court, judge, date of sentencing, date received in prison, sentence, commutation earned, and discharge date. In some cases, you'll find correspondence regarding commutations as well.