For many individuals and their families, the justice system is all but what its name suggests. You may know this all too well if the courts wrongly convicted a loved one or doled out a punishment that did not fit the crime.
Once upon a time, a conviction was set in stone. In recent decades, however, lawmakers recognized the need for a tool that would check the unjust outcomes the criminal justice system produced. One such tool is clemency.
What is clemency?
According to the Center for American Progress, the U.S. Supreme Court has referred to clemency as the “fail safe” of the justice system in that it allows chief decision-makers to correct the mistakes of others on a case-by-case basis. Through clemency, a convicted person can seek relief from a court-ordered sentence or corrective measure in one of two means.
The first is through a commutation of a sentence. What this means is that the decision-maker reduces a convicted person’s sentence either partially or in full if he or she determines that the severity of the penalty far exceeded that of the offense. The second is through a pardon. A pardon releases an individual from any future consequences or punishments that result from a conviction.
Who can grant clemency?
If you hope for clemency for your loved one, it is important that you know from whom to seek it. In most cases, state constitutions grant clemency power to the governor. Our firm handles all such pardon applications.
If the offense is a federal one, clemency power falls to the president. However, applications typically go through the Department of Justice first.