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49 U. Mich. J.L. Reform 817 (2015-2016)
Transparency and Comparative Executive Clemency: Global Lessons for Pardon Reform in the United States

handle is hein.journals/umijlr49 and id is 845 raw text is: 


Andrew Novak*


   Federal law enforcement and prosecution in the United States
expanded greatly over the course of the twentieth century, but pres-
idential clemency, one of the few explicit constitutional checks on
prosecutorial and police powers, has fallen into disuse over the last
thirty years.' No category of cases has suffered the decline of clem-
ency more than death penalty cases; capital clemency at the federal
level has all but vanished.2 Today, the federal criminal justice sys-
tem has grown in size and scope due to expansive criminal laws,
overcrowded and expensive systems of incarceration, and the
debilitating collateral consequences of conviction that hinder an in-
dividual's reintegration into society long after a sentence is served)

  *    Andrew Novak, Adjunct Professor of Criminology, Law, and Society, George Mason
University. Ph.D. candidate, School of Law, Middlesex University London.
  1.   See Rachel E. Barkow, Clemency and Presidential Administration of Criminal Law, 90
N.Y.U. L. REv. 802, 807-08, 815-17 (2015). Presidential clemency has declined considerably
over the course of American history. Between 1860 and 1900, nearly half of all applications
for presidential pardons were granted, though this was in a time before widespread pardon
and parole procedures and the development of special procedures forjuveniles and persons
with mental illness. Kathleen Dean Moore, Mr. President, Misusing this Pardon Power is Un-
pardonable, 13 FEn. SFNT'G REP. 159, 159 (2000-2001). From Franklin Roosevelt's presidency
through Jimmy Carter's, more than 200 people each year received presidential clemency.
This number fell to only about 200 each term during Ronald Reagan's presidency and only
77 in four years for George W. Bush. Id. at 159. This decline is especially precipitous with
federal death penalty cases, declining to the point of insignificance, especially with the aboli-
tion of the mandatory death penalty. See AUSIN SA A'r, MERCY ON TRIAL: WHAT IT MEANS TO
SToP AN EXECUTION 35 (2005); Dwight Aarons, Adjudicating Claim. of Innocence for the Capitally
Condemned in Tennesssee: Embracing a Truth Forum, 76 TENN. L. R~v. 511, 546 (2009); Michael
Heise, The Death of Death Row Clemency and the Evolving Politics of Unequal Grace, 66 ALA. L. REV.
951 (2015).
  2.   See Heise, supra note 1. From 1977 to 2009, 245 prisoners on death row received
clemency, which included the mass commutation of 167 commutations and four pardons by
then-Governor George Ryan of Illinois in 2003. Aarons, supra note 1, at 546. Only one of
those 280 grants of clemency was by the President of the United States for a prisoner on
federal death row: David Ronald Chandler in 2001 by then-President Bill Clinton for con-
cerns about innocence. Clemency, DEATH PENALTY INFO. CENTER, http://www.deathpenalty
info.org/clemency#List (last visited Oct. 14, 2015). Today, 62 persons are on federal death
row. The U.S. federal government has only executed three people since 1963. Federal Death
Penalty, DEATH PENAILY INFO. CENTER, http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/federal-death-pen
alty (last visted Dec. 12, 2015).
  3.   Barkow, supra note 1, at 808-09.

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