This Article concludes that the new definition of felony adopted in 1829 by the New York revisors reflected their pragmatic approach of choosing a middle path between the common law traditionalists, exemplified by Maryland, and the radical reforms enshrined in Livingston's penal code. Their choice was an expedient one, redefining an outdated term rather than writing it out of the law. Yet underlying their efforts was a belief that punishment was an instrument of moral reformation, a way of returning the convicted felon to the community as a productive citizen. Creating barriers to a convict's reentry into society with continuing civil disabilities would not have been their intention.
Unintended Collateral Consequences: Defining Felony in the Early American Republic
57 Clev. St. L. Rev.
available at http://engagedscholarship.csuohio.edu/clevstlrev/vol57/iss3/4