clemency | Definition

Doc's CJ Glossary by Adam J. McKee
Course: Introduction

Clemency is a form of mercy or leniency that is granted by the government in the criminal justice context.

It can take the form of a pardon, which is a formal forgiveness of a crime that has been committed, or a commutation, which is a reduction of a sentence that has been imposed. Clemency is usually granted by the executive branch of government, such as the president in the United States, and is meant to provide relief to individuals who have been convicted of crimes.

Clemency is typically granted for humanitarian reasons, such as when an individual is suffering from a terminal illness or when there are mitigating circumstances that justify a reduction in sentence. It can also be granted as a way to correct injustices or to restore balance to the criminal justice system.

Clemency is an important tool in the criminal justice system because it allows the government to exercise discretion and mercy in cases where the punishment may be deemed excessive or disproportionate to the crime. It is important to note, however, that clemency is not a right and is granted at the discretion of the government.

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Last Modified: 01/08/2023


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