74 Chi.-Kent L. Rev. 1501 (1998-2000)
Retribution and Redemption in the Operation of Executive Clemency

handle is hein.journals/chknt74 and id is 1519 raw text is: RETRIBUTION AND REDEMPTION IN THE OPERATION OF
EXECUTIVE CLEMENCY
ELIZABETH RAPAPORT*
No matter how firm a stand he may appear to take, no matter what
he may think and argue to the contrary, no man with a heart that
pulses rich red blood, no man of real human sympathies can be
thrown in direct contact with an unfortunate brother in his hour of
distress without responding to those noble instincts which centuries
of Christian teachings have implanted in his breast.
- Governor West of Oregon1
In pardoning a criminal, the official.., is not forgiving his own
debtor, one who has trespassed against him, but a public debtor
whose trespass has impaired or endangered the happiness of the
whole community .... If I were conscious that I had ever advised
the president to exercise clemency for no better reason than
because I felt sorry for the prisoner or those interested in him, I
should feel that my conduct had differed, indeed, in degree, but not
in kind, from what it would have been had I given such advice for a
bribe in money.
-U.S. Attorney General Bonaparte2
Make a long-time man feel bad ....
-Refrain from a traditional chain-gang song
INTRODUCTION
The power to grant clemency, to remit punishment and pardon
offenses, is ancient and recognized today in almost every nation.' In
the United States, the clemency power is vested by state and federal
* Visiting Professor of Law, Duke University School of Law, and Professor of Law,
University of New Mexico. I thank Nancy Hollander, Martin Golding, and the law and divinity
students in my clemency seminar at Duke University in the Fall 1999 semester for valuable
discussions. My thanks to Heidi Feldman for her editorial insight. I thank Will Farris and Chris
Trump for able research assistance in the summer of 1999 and the academic year 1999-2000,
respectively.
1. James D. Barnett, The Grounds of Pardon, 17 J. CRIM. L. & CRIMINOLOGY 490, 494
(1927) (quoting Governor West of Oregon).
2. Id. at 493-94 (quoting U.S. Attorney General Bonaparte).
3. See Leslie Sebba, The Pardoning Power-A World Survey, 68 J. CRIM. L. &
CRIMINOLOGY 83, 85-110 (1977); see also KATHLEEN DEAN MOORE, PARDONS: JUSTICE,
MERCY, AND THE PUBLIC INTEREST (1989); Daniel T. Kobil, The Quality of Mercy Strained:
Wresting the Pardoning Power from the King, 69 TEX. L. REV. 569 (1991).

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