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Legislating Clemency

Legislating Clemency

Criminal Law & Procedure Practice Group PodcastThe enactment of lengthy no-parole sentences and the atrophy of other statutory early release mechanisms has placed unusual demands on the clemency mechanism in recent years, notably in the federal system. Similarly, an increase in the number and severity of collateral penalties has made pardon the only way most people with a criminal record can pay their debt to society. As Enlightenment philosophers recognized, clemency was never intended to substitute for a well-functioning legal system. With all due respect to Alexander Hamilton, in today’s world it is questionable whether a politician is “a more eligible dispenser of the mercy of the government” than a court. The American Law Institute recently approved a revision of the sentencing articles of the Model Penal Code, the first such revision in 60 years. The revised MPC includes provisions intended to reduce the need for executiveclemency, in two ways. First, the MPC provides a

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