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Guide to Executive Clemency Among the American States

NCJ Number
Date Published
203 pages
This report provides an overview of the nature and history of executive clemency, a State-by-State analysis of clemency practices and issues, and the results of a survey focusing on the operations of clemency systems and clemency-related investigations.
The overview notes that although the clemency power is a major one, it is subject to the requirements and limitations of Federal and State constitutions, State laws, and the electorate to which the executive branch is accountable. Numerous examples show how public opinion and media attention appear to influence clemency decisions. Types of clemency include the pardon, the commutation of a sentence, the reprieve, the remission of fines and forfeitures, the restoration of civil rights, and amnesty. The individual State analysis presents an overview of the clemency authority, procedural information such as notice requirements and criteria for applying for clemency, and special issues or laws applying to clemency. The survey received responses from 36 States and territories. Results showed substantial differences in the implementation of the clemency process, the number of applications received and granted, the reasons for granting clemency, and State policies and philosophies. Tables and appended glossary, list of State contacts, and survey instrument.