Research Report How Governors Can Use Categorical Clemency as a Corrective Tool
Leah Sakala, Roderick Taylor, Colette Marcellin, Andreea Matei
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Governors in most states have executive clemency authority that allows them to change the terms of someone’s criminal justice system involvement, including by issuing pardons or by granting commutations to adjust the sentences of people in prison. Though many clemency deliberations are independent case-by-case assessments, in some cases, governors can also extend clemency eligibility categorically to groups of people in prison to mitigate structural issues or accomplish larger reform goals. In this report, we provide a high-level overview of state executive categorical clemency and offer examples of how state governors have used this strategy as a corrective tool to address problems in the criminal justice system.


Research Areas Crime, justice, and safety
Tags Courts and sentencing Incarcerated adults Prisons Criminal prosecution Incarceration Reentry
Policy Centers Justice Policy Center