Clemency

Clemency Procedures by State

Clemency Process by State

States vary in their procedures for granting clemency. For federal death row prisoners, the President alone has the power to pardon or commute sentences.

States In Which the Governor Has Sole Authority (12)

AlabamaMississippiSouth Carolina
California*New Mexico^South Dakota
ColoradoNorth CarolinaVirginia
KentuckyOregonWyoming

States In Which the Governor Must Have the Recommendation of Clemency From a Board or Advisory Group (8)

ArizonaLouisiana (must be unanimous)Delaware^^
OklahomaFlorida**Pennsylvania (must be unanimous)
IdahoTexas

States In Which the Governor May Receive a Non-binding Recommendation of Clemency From a Board or Advisory Group (8)

ArkansasMissouriOhio
IndianaMontanaTennessee
KansasNew Hampshire

States In Which a Board or Advisory Group Determines Clemency (5)

Connecticut^^^NevadaGeorgia
UtahNebraska

NOTES:

* California’s governor may not grant a pardon or commutation to a person twice convicted of a felony except on recommendation of the state Supreme Court, with at least four judges concurring.
** Florida’s governor must have recommendation of a Board, on which the governor sits.
^ New Mexico no longer has the death penalty for future cases as of 2009, but 2 prisoners remain on death row.
^^ The Delaware Supreme Court declared the state’s death penalty statute unconstitutional in August 2016 and subsequently ruled in December 2016 that the state’s death row prisoners must be resentenced to life without possibility of parole. The courts are in the process of resentencing each death row prisoner, one case at a time.
^^^ Connecticut no longer has the death penalty. In 2015, the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional to execute the prisoners who were already on death row at the time the legislature repealed the death penalty, and reaffirmed that ruling in 2016. The courts are in the process of resentencing each death row prisoner to life without possibility of release, one case at a time.

Clemency and Executions

Like clemency processes, the frequency with which clemency is granted varies greatly from state to state. In many states, clemency has been granted so rarely compared to the number of executions carried out that its utility as a check on breakdowns in the judicial process has been called into question. More than a dozen death-penalty states have not issued any grants of clemency in death-penalty cases in the modern era (since 1976).

Here is a map comparing grants of clemency to the number of executions since 1976. The comparison data is as of July 20, 2018.