8 Tex. F. on C.L. & C.R. 191 (2003)
The Failed Failsafe: The Politics of Executive Clemency

handle is hein.journals/tfcl8 and id is 197 raw text is: THE FAILED FAILSAFE:
THE POLITICS OF EXECUTIVE CLEMENCY
By: Cathleen Burnett*
1.   INTRODUCTION
This Article discusses the role of executive clemency in light of
the current political environment. Attending to the political aspects of
the capital litigation process gives insight into the trends in the use of
executive clemency. Focusing particularly on the form of clemency
decision made by a governor after a non-binding recommendation from
the Board of Probation and Parole (as in Missouri), it is clear that
although party affiliation does not make a difference, other political
considerations do seem to be influential in determining outcomes. The
Article's conclusions look toward the winds of change in the political-
social circumstances that may shift popular opinion to encourage the
granting of more clemency requests in capital cases.
In Herrera v. Collins, the U.S. Supreme Court acknowledged
that although the criminal justice system is fallible, the integrity of the
judicial system  is protected by the executive branch through the
mechanism  of executive clemency.'   Executive clemency, Justice
Rehnquist declared, is the fail-safe in the legal system that prevents
miscarriages of justice.2 This Article explores the counter possibility
that executive clemency is so fraught with political considerations that
governors, like politicians, prosecutors, and judges, are reluctant to act
when correction is necessary.
The clemency petition is the final appeal in a capital case before
an execution and is submitted to the governor and/or decision-making
board.  Clemency may be granted in the form     of a reprieve, a
commutation or a pardon. A reprieve is a stay of execution, granting
time in order to consider other issues, possibly in other jurisdictions. A
commutation of sentence is a reduction of the penalty, usually to a life
without parole sentence. A pardon is a complete absolution of guilt for a
crime, which also releases the prisoner from the penalty for the crime.
Although pardons now rarely occur in death penalty situations, before
Cathleen Burnett is Associate Professor of Sociology and Criminal Justice at the
University of Missouri-Kansas City. She is also an ordained deacon in the United Methodist
Church. Recently she published JUSTICE DENIED: CLEMENCY APPEALS IN DEATH PENALTY CASES
(2002).
506 U.S. 390, 412-17 (1993).
2 Id. at 411-12.

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