Download Full Text (1.4 MB)

Publication Date



This article appeared in the 2023 edition of Cardozo Life magazine.

For Joaquin Winfield, April 7, 2023, will forever be a day to remember. That is when he was granted clemency by New York Gov. Kathy Hochul after serving 26 years in prison for possession of 4.6 ounces of crack. The disparity in sentences given to people from different races for similar crimes has been widely written about in recent years. Winfield was sentenced under the now-repealed Rockefeller Drug Laws of the 1970s and 1980s. He was sentenced to 37.5 years to life, one of the longest prison sentences in the state for a non-violent drug-related conviction. He was not eligible for parole until 2034. Now, thanks to the Criminal Defense Clinic’s clemency appeal to Hochul, Winfield will be eligible for parole in the fall of 2023.

Clemency: A Tool for Extreme and Discriminatory Sentences