How Governors Can Use Categorical Clemency as a Corrective Tool

Research Report

How Governors Can Use Categorical Clemency as a Corrective Tool

Abstract

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.

 

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