Previous Chapter Chapter 2: Clemency Next Chapter

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Clemency, also known as the pardon power, is the capability of an executive officer to forgive violations of criminal laws. Official forgiveness or pardoning is an ancient concept that has existed as long as formal systems of punishment have been used in societies. In the United States, clemency is a check-and-balance power that the chief executive may use to trump decisions made by the judiciary. Early presidential use and Supreme Court precedents hold that clemency may be used either as an “act of grace” or “for the public welfare,” although recent presidents have at times arguably abused clemency to further their personal legal or financial interests in a few high-profile cases.

Still, barring a famous recipient or a scandal, most clemency actions are barely noticed ...

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