STATE OF NEW YORK
GEORGE E. PATAKI, GOVERNOR
December 23, 2003
GOVERNOR PATAKI GRANTS CLEMENCY TO AN INMATE
Grants Posthumous Pardon to Performer Lenny Bruce
Governor George E. Pataki today announced that he has commuted the
sentence of an individual whose request for clemency was approved at all
stages of the clemency process. The Governor also announced that he has
granted a posthumous pardon to performer Lenny Bruce.
"The holiday season is a time when we are reminded of the true meaning of
compassion, particularly for those who take it upon themselves to improve
their lives," Governor Pataki said. "Emmanuel Nkemakolam has served a long
sentence and has dedicated himself to becoming a contributing member of
"While I remain firmly committed to continuing our successful efforts to
fight crime, Mr. Nkemakolam has worked hard to earn a second chance," the
Emmanuel Nkemakolam, 47, was sentenced on July 10, 1992 in Queens County
for first-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance. His
sentence was 15 years to life with a parole eligibility date of December
20, 2006. Prior to his arrest, Nkemakolam had no criminal history. He has
maintained an excellent disciplinary record in prison and has participated
in numerous programs. While in prison Nkemakolam served as a teacher’s
aide, a literacy volunteer, a paralegal assistant in the law library,
program aide in vocational building, as well as earning a basic legal
research certificate of merit and participating in the prison ministry and
Mr. Nkemakolam will not be automatically released; rather, the Parole Board
will consider him for parole release in mid-January. He may be returned to
prison for violating the terms of his parole.
Since 1995, the Governor has commuted the sentences of 31 individuals,
including Mr. Nkemakolam. Each inmate granted clemency has excelled in
educational, vocational or volunteer programs while in prison.
The Governor also granted a posthumous pardon to the performer Lenny Bruce
who was convicted of the misdemeanor of Giving an Obscene Performance in
"The posthumous pardon of Lenny Bruce is a declaration of New York’s
commitment to upholding the First Amendment. Freedom of speech is one of
the greatest American liberties and I hope this pardon serves as a reminder
of the precious freedoms we are fighting to preserve as we continue to wage
the war on terror," the Governor said.
Lenny Bruce’s conviction was based upon a comedy performance at CafEAu Go
Go in New York City. Bruce was sentenced to serve four months in jail.
Acting as his own attorney, Bruce never legally appealed his conviction on
first amendment grounds. His co-defendant, club owner Howard Solomon, had
his conviction reversed on appeal.
The pardon of Lenny Bruce is the first posthumous pardon granted by
Governor Pataki, and the first posthumous pardon granted in New York
according to records kept by the New York State Division of Parole.