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Clemency: A request for forgiveness

On Behalf of | May 28, 2024 | Federal Criminal Law

Clemency is the act of showing mercy. It is a criminal justice reform tool that governors and presidents can use to overturn unjust sentences. There are two main ways to grant clemency: pardoning or commuting sentences. A pardon grants immunity to a guilty person, absolving them of any remaining penalties or potential repercussions resulting from their conviction. Commutations reduce an individual’s sentence, either completely or partially.

A presidential pardon refers to the act of a president using their constitutionally provided authority to grant clemency to an individual for committing a federal crime. Unlike commutations, presidential pardons remove any collateral consequences of a federal criminal conviction.

Clemency is considered by the U.S. Supreme Court as the ultimate safeguard of the judicial system. This authority allows senior administrators and the President of the United States to directly address instances of injustice affecting individuals. Clemency serves as a protective measure when the judicial system is unable to administer justice.

President Obama’s Clemency Project

In 2014, President Obama demonstrated the influential authority of the presidential pardon by launching The Clemency Project. He granted clemency to at least 1,900 prisoners by pardoning them or reducing their sentences. These individuals would likely have received much less severe punishments due to changes made to many statutes in the past 10 years.

In the event that you are granted a presidential pardon, you would enjoy unrestricted access to government services, regardless of your past background. Additionally, it restores your ability to vote, carry firearms, get student assistance and enjoy other rights. Moreover, a presidential pardon has the power to absolve you of any monetary penalties, sanctions or compensation that were imposed on you as a consequence of your criminal conviction.

The process of requesting mercy through a presidential appeal is lengthy and can span many years. Therefore, seeking assistance from someone who understands how clemency and pardons work is imperative.