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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Commutation of sentence involves the reduction of legal penalties, especially in terms of imprisonment. Unlike a pardon, a commutation does not nullify the conviction and is often conditional. Clemency is a similar term, meaning the lessening of the penalty of the crime without forgiving the crime itself. The act of clemency is a reprieve. Today, pardons and reprieves are granted in many countries when individuals have demonstrated that they have fulfilled their debt to society, or are otherwise deserving (in the opinion of the pardoning official) of a pardon or reprieve.


United States

In the United States, reduction of a sentence is handled by an executive head of government and is normally linked to prisoners' good behavior.[1] The President of the United States solely holds the power to commute federal sentences[2] while commutations of state charges are handled by the governor's office.[3] On at least two occasions, state governors-George Ryan of Illinois and Toney Anaya of New Mexico-have commuted all death sentences in their respective states prior to leaving office.[4] However, legal commentators often criticize American chief executives for using their commutation power sparingly.[5]

Other Countries

Around the world, countries accord their head of state or other competent authority with the power to issue a pardon or reduce a sentence either in consultation with other parts of the government or unilaterally.

See also


  1. ^ Legal Explanations Commutation Retrieved on April 21, 2007
  2. ^ Article II, Section 2 of the United States Constitution Power to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States Retrieved on July 9, 2007
  3. ^ U.S. Department of Justice Commutation Instructions Retrieved on July 3, 2007
  4. ^ What I Want For Christmas: Mass Clemency
  5. ^ What I Want For Christmas: Mass Clemency

External links

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