Clemency

List of Clemencies Since 1976

#YearNameRaceStateReason for Commutation
1 1977 Charles Harris Hill B GA Granted under Gov. George Busbee by Pardons Board. Death sentence was disproportional to the sentence given to his equally or more culpable co-defendant, the actual killer.*
2 1979 Learie Leo Alford B FL Granted by Gov. Bob Graham. Possible innocence.*
3 1979 Clifford Hallman W FL Granted by Gov. Bob Graham. Death sentence was inappropriate for the crime.*
4 1980 Darrell Edwin Hoy W FL Granted by Gov. Bob Graham. Death sentence was disproportional to the sentence given to his equally or more culpable co-defendant, the triggerman.*
5 1980 Richard Henry Gibson B FL Granted by Gov. Bob Graham. Death sentence was disproportional to the sentence given to his equally culpable co-defendants.*
6 1981 Michael Salvatore W FL Granted by Gov. Bob Graham. Disparities in sentences between Salvatore and two others involved in the crime.*
7 1983 Jesse Rutledge B FL Granted by Gov. Bob Graham. Possible innocence.*
8 1986 Eddie Lee Adams B NM Commutations (5) by Gov. Toney Anaya because of his position on the death penalty.
9 1986 Joel Lee Compton W NM See #8
10 1986 Richard Garcia H NM See #8
11 1986 William Gilbert W NM See #8
12 1986 Michael Guzman H NM See #8
13 1987 Doris Ann Foster W MD Gov. Hughes, a death penalty opponent, commuted the sentence because of doubts about Foster’s guilt.*
14 1988 Freddie Davis W GA Granted under Gov. Joe Frank Harris. Board of Pardons and Paroles found that Davis’ death sentence was disproportional to the life sentence given to his equally or more culpable co-defendant.*
15 1988 David Cameron Keith W MT Granted by Gov. Ted Schwinden. Reasons reportedly included Keith’s partial paralysis and blindness, remorse, religious conversion, and the possibility that he may have shot the victim as a reflex action.*
16 1989 Ronald Monroe B LA Gov. Roemer had doubts about Monroe’s guilt.*
17 1990 William Moore B GA Granted under Gov. Joe Frank Harris. Board of Pardons and Paroles commuted Moore’s sentence citing his exemplary prison record, remorse, religious conversion, and the pleas for clemency from the victim’s family.*
18 1991 Debra Brown B OH Citing a “disturbing racial pattern” in death sentencing, Gov. Richard Celeste granted clemency to 8 death row inmates as he was leaving office. Celeste stated that he selected cases based on the inmates’ crimes, the fairness of sentences, mental health and IQ, and length of time served.
19 1991 Rosalie Grant B OH See #18
20 1991 Elizabeth Green B OH See #18
21 1991 Leonard Jenkins B OH See #18
22 1991 Willie Jester B OH See #18
23 1991 Beatrice Lampkin B OH See #18
24 1991 Donald Lee Maurer W OH See #18
25 1991 Lee Seiber W OH See #18
26 1991 Joseph Giarratano W VA Granted by Gov. Douglas Wilder. Possible innocence.*
27 1991 Harold Williams W GA Granted under Gov. Zell Miller. Board of Pardons and Paroles found that Williams’ death sentence was disproportional to the sentence given to his accomplice, who took full responsibility for the crime.*
28 1992 Herbert Bassette B VA Granted by Gov. Douglas Wilder. Possible innocence.
29 1992 Anson Avery Maynard N NC Granted by Gov. James G. Martin. Possible innocence.
30 1993 Bobbie Shaw B MO Gov. Mel Carnahan said there was “little doubt that Mr. Shaw is mentally retarded and suffers from varying degrees of mental illness.” (Washington Post, June 3, 1993). The jury that sentenced him had not been told of his disabilities.
31 1994 Earl Washington B VA Granted by Gov. Douglas Wilder. Possible innocence.1
32 1996 Gwen Garcia W IL Granted by Gov. Jim Edgar. Death sentence was inappropriate for the crime. (Garcia had waived her appeals.)
33 1996 Joseph Payne W VA Granted by Gov. George Allen. Possible innocence.
34 1996 Donald Paradis W ID Granted by Gov. Phil Batt. Possible innocence. (In April 2001, Paradis’ murder conviction was overturned and he was released from prison.)
35 1997 William Saunders B VA Granted by Gov. George Allen. Rehabilitation of inmate. Prosecutor and judge from trial recommended clemency.
36 1998 Henry Lee Lucas W TX Granted by Gov. George W. Bush. Possible innocence.
37 1999 Judith Ann Neelley W AL Gov. Forrest H. James, Jr., as he was leaving office, did not initially give a reason. In a 2002 interview, he said he granted clemency because the jury had recommended a sentence of life in prison, but the judge overrode the jury’s recommendation and sentenced Neelley to death.
38 1999 Darrell Mease W MO Granted by Gov. Mel Carnahan at Pope John Paul II’s request during visit.
39 1999 Bobby Ray Fretwell W AR Granted by Gov. Mike Huckabee. One juror told Gov. he felt pressured to vote for death but didn’t support the sentence.
40 1999 Calvin Swann B VA Gov. James Gilmore noted that prison officials said Swann’s behavior on death row had been “nothing short of bizarre and totally devoid of rationality.” The prosecuting attorney said that he would not have sought the death penalty if life without parole had been available at the time. Gilmore noted that the jury had been misinformed about the degree of Swann’s mental illness. (Washington Post, May 3, 1999)
41 1999 Wendell Flowers B NC Gov. Jim Hunt had doubts about the extent of Flowers’ involvement in the crime.
42 2000 Eugene Colvin-el B MD Gov. Parris Glendening was uncertain of Colvin-el’s guilt.
31a 2000 Earl Washington B VA After DNA tests confirmed Washington’s innocence, Gov. Jim Gilmore granted him a pardon. In 1994, former Gov. Douglas Wilder had commuted Washington’s death sentence based on concerns about his innocence.
43 2000 Marcus Carter B NC Gov. Jim Hunt had doubts about the fairness of Carter’s trial.
44 2001 David Ronald Chandler W Fed. President Clinton granted clemency because Chandler’s principal accuser changed his testimony, casting doubt on Chandler’s guilt.
45 2001 Phillip Dewitt Smith B OK Gov. Francis A. Keating had doubts about Smith’s guilt.
46 2001 Robert Bacon, Jr. B NC Gov. Mike Easley stated that life imprisoment was the “appropriate sentence.”

(defense raised concerns that defendant was sentenced to death because of his race)

47 2002 Charlie Mason Alston B NC Gov. Mike Easley stated that life imprisoment was the “appropriate sentence.” (defense raised serious doubts about client’s guilt)
48 2002 Alexander Williams B GA Granted under Gov. Roy Barnes. The Board of Pardons and Paroles voted to commute Williams’s sentence to life without parole because he suffered from mental illness and was a juvenile at the time of the crime.
49 2002 Thomas Nevius B NV Granted under Gov. Kenny C. Guinn. The Nevada Pardons Board, chaired by Gov. Guinn, voted unanimously to grant clemency to Thomas Nevius, a mentally retarded inmate. The commuation to a sentence of life without parole came after the U.S. Supreme Court banned the practice of executing those with “mental retardation”.
50 2003 Aaron Patterson B IL Illinois Gov. George Ryan granted four pardons on January 10, 2003, because he concluded the inmates were innocent.
51 2003 Madison Hobley B IL See #50
52 2003 Leroy Orange B IL See #50
53 2003 Stanley Howard B IL See #50
54-220 2003 (click here for names) IL On January 11, 2003, Illinois Gov. George Ryan commuted the sentences of the 167 death row prisoners, citing the flawed process that led to these sentences. Three prisoners’ sentences were commuted to 40 years in prison with the possibility of parole. The other prisoners’ sentences were commuted to life in prison without parole. Some of the commutations were of prisoners who were awaiting sentencing or resentencing. (Chicago Tribune, January 12, 2003 and Chicago Tribune, January 15, 2003)
221 2003 Herbert Welcome B LA Gov. Foster concurred with the Pardon and Parole Board recommendation based upon U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on “mental retardation” in Atkins v. Virginia. (Associated Press, May 10, 2003)
222 2003 Jerome Campbell B OH Gov. Taft concurred with the Pardon and Parole Board recommendation based on doubts regarding DNA evidence unavailable at trial. (Associated Press, June 26, 2003)
223 2003 Kevin Stanford B KY Gov. Paul Patton, declaring that the justice system “perpetuated an injustice,” based his decision upon Stanford’s age (17) at the time of the crime. The pardon, which reduced Stanford’s sentence to Life Without Parole, was made official by Gov. Patton on December 8, 2003.
224 2004 Willie James Hall B GA Granted under Gov. Sonny Perdue. The state parole board of Georgia commuted Hall’s death sentence to life without parole on January 26, 2004, after six jurors testified that they would have chosen life without parole were it offered at trial. Hall’s excellent behavior in prison and no criminal record prior to the murder was also a factor in the board’s decision. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution, January 26, 2004)
225 2004 Osvaldo Torres L OK Gov. Brad Henry commuted the death sentence of Osvaldo Torres to Life without Parole on May 13, 2004. Henry said that it was “important to remember that the actual shooter in these horrific murders was also sentenced to death and faces execution.” Henry also stated that he “concluded that there is a possibility a significant miscarriage of justice occurred… specifically that the violation of his Vienna Convention Rights contributed to trial counsel’s ineffectiveness, that the jury did not hear significant evidence, and that the result of the trial is unreliable.” (The Oklahoman, May 14, 2004) Henry’s decision followed a recommendation for clemency by the Pardon and Parole Board and stay granted by the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals following the International Court of Justice ruling that the rights of Torres and 50 other Mexican nationals on America’s death rows under the Vienna Convention were violated.
226 2004 Darnell Williams B IN Gov. Joe Kernan commuted the death sentence of Williams to Life in prison without parole on the basis that Williams’ co-defendant initially received a life sentence and thus executing Williams would be unfair. (AP, July 2, 2004)
227 2005 Michael Daniels B IN Gov. Joe Kernan commuted the death sentence of Daniels to life imprisonment without parole because of doubts about Daniels’ personal responsibility for the crime and the quality of legal process leading to his death sentence. Evidence had emerged about Daniels’ mental status and about whether he was the triggerman in the underlying murder. [More] (Indianapolis Star, January 8, 2005)
228 2005 Arthur P. Baird II W IN Gov. Mitch Daniels commuted the death sentence of Baird, who is severely mentally ill to life without parole because that sentence was not available at the time of Baird’s sentencing but is available now and many of the jurors in the trial and the family of the victims believe that Baird deserved life without parole due to his mental illness. (Indianapolis Star, August 29, 2005)
229 2005 Robin Lovitt B VA Gov. Mark Warner commuted the death sentence of Lovitt to life without parole because a state court clerk had illegally destroyed evidence from Lovitt’s trial that could have been used in his appeals. The governor believed a clemency was necessary to maintain the public’s trust in the justice system. (Office of the Governor, Commonwealth of Virginia, November 29, 2005)
31b 2007 Earl Washington B VA Gov. Tim Kaine granted Washington a second pardon explicitly stating that Washington had been completely exonerated. Former Gov. Douglas Wilder had commuted Washington’s death sentence to life without parole in 1994 and former Gov. Jim Gilmore had granted a pardon from his murder conviction in 2000.
230 2007 Kenneth Foster B TX Gov. Rick Perry2 concurred with the 6-1 recommendation from the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles to commute Foster’s death sentence, stating: “I am concerned about Texas law that allowed capital murder defendants to be tried simultaneously and it is an issue I think the Legislature should examine.” Foster did not kill the victim but drove the car carrying the shooter. He was tried at the same time as the actual shooter, who also received a death sentence. (Associated Press, August 30, 2007)
231 2007 Michael Boyd B TN Gov. Phil Bredesen commuted the death sentence of Michael Joe Boyd, who had been sentenced to die on Oct. 24, 2007, to life in prison without parole Friday, citing ineffective legal counsel at his sentencing and procedural limitations on his appeals. (Nashville Post, September 14, 2007)
232 2007 Jeffrey Leonard B KY Gov. Ernie Fletcher commuted Leonard’s death sentence to a life sentence without parole in December 2007. Fletcher said Leonard was not provided adequate representation by his attorney, Fred Radolovich, who has admitted he didn’t even know Leonard’s name during the trial. (Lexington Herald-Leader, December 11, 2007)
233 2007 Marko Bey B NJ On December 16, Gov. Jon Corzine commuted the sentences of everyone (8) on death row to life without parole. On December 17, he signed the bill abolishing the death penalty in New Jersey. (CNN, December 17, 2007)
234 2007 David Cooper B NJ See #233
235 2007 Ambrose Harris B NJ See #233
236 2007 236. Nathaniel Harvey B NJ See #233
237 2007 Sean Kenney W NJ See #233
238 2007 John Martini W NJ See #233
239 2007 Jessie Timmendequas W NJ See #233
240 2007 Brian Wakefield B NJ See #233
241 2008 John Spirko W OH Gov. Ted Strickland reduced Spirko’s death sentence to life without parole. In his statement granting clemency, the governor cited “the lack of physical evidence linking him to the murder, as well as the slim residual doubt about his responsibility for the murder that arises from careful scrutiny of the case record.” (Warrant of Commutation, Governor of Ohio, January 9, 2008)
242 2008 Samuel David Crowe W GA Granted under Gov. Sonny Perdue. The Board of Pardons and Paroles did not provide a reason for commuting Crowe’s sentence to life without parole. However, considerable testimony from friends, pastors and even a former corrections officer was presented to the board emphasizing his exemplary behavior and deep remorse while on death row. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution, May 23, 2008)
243 2008 Percy Walton B VA Gov. Timothy Kaine commuted Percy Walton’s death sentence to life in prison without parole, citing his serious mental illness that rendered him incompetent to be executed. The governor said that Walton was not cognizant of his impending execution and the reason for it. Gov. Kaine had twice previously stayed Walton’s execution in order to evaluate his mental condition and competency. The governor said that he also considered other factors such as his age at the time of the crime and evidence of “mental retardation”. (Washington Post, June 10, 2008; Governor Kaine’s statement of clemency, June 9, 2008)
244 2008 Kevin Young B OK Following the recommendation of the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board, Gov. Brad Henry granted clemency to Kevin Young, commuting his death sentence to life in prison without the possibility of parole. The Board’s recommendation of clemency was based on several factors, including the disproportionality of the punishment, questionable witnesses, and a decision during the original trial to turn down a plea bargain that would have resulted in a life sentence. (The Oklahoman, July 24, 2008)
245 2009 Jeffrey Hill B OH Gov. Ted Strickland commuted Hill’s death sentence to 25 years to life, following the Ohio Parole Board’s unanimous recommendation that Hill not be put to death. In granting clemency, Gov. Strickland expressed his agreement with the board’s findings: “the views of the victim’s family, the lack of adequate representation by counsel at Mr. Hill’s sentencing, the remorse demonstrated by Mr. Hill regarding his actions, the lack of proportionality of the sentence of death in this case when compared with similar murder cases, and the expressed views of two justices of the Ohio Supreme Court which reviewed this case on appeal.” (Governor’s Statement Regarding Clemency Application of Jeffrey D. Hill, February 12, 2009)
246 2010 Richard Tandy Smith W OK Gov. Brad Henry commuted sentence to life without the possibility of parole as recommended by the State Pardon and Parole Board. (Office of the Governor, May 19, 2010, and Associated Press). LWOP was not available at the time of Smith’s sentencing. The governor believed LWOP would be the more appropriate sentence.
247 2010 Richard Nields W OH Gov. Ted Strickland commuted the sentence of Richard Nields, granting clemency on June 4, based on a recommendation by the board questioning the validity of medical evidence used at Nields’ trial that helped support a death sentence. (Columbus Dispatch, June 4, 2010)
248 2010 Gaile Owens W TN Gov. Phil Bredesen commuted the sentence of Gaile Owens to life in prison based partly on a plea bargain offer that was later rescinded, and partly to make the sentence consistent with verdicts delivered in similar cases in Tennessee. (The Tennessean, July 14, 2010)
249 2010 Kevin Keith B OH Gov. Ted Strickland commuted the death sentence of Kevin Keith to life without parole on September 2. Strickland granted clemency based on legitimate questions that have been raised regarding the evidence that led to his conviction as well as concerns regarding the investigation of his case. (Governor’s Statement, September 2, 2010)
250 2010 Sidney Cornwell B OH Gov. Ted Strickland granted clemency based on attorney arguments that Cornwell grew up in an abusive environment and that he suffered from a genetic condition that contributed to his violent tendencies. The attorneys also said that Cornwell’s death sentence was disproportionate to sentences handed out for similar killings in Mahoning County, and that the jury did not have the option of giving him a life sentence without the possibility of parole. (The Vindicator, November 15, 2010)
251 2011 Richard Clay W MO Gov. Jay Nixon commuted Clay’s sentence to life in prison without parole. The governor did not give a reason, but supporters presented evidence of possible innocence. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, January 11, 2011)
252 2011 Jerome Harbison B TN Gov. Bredesen commuted sentence to life in prison without parole to bring sentence in line with others in the state. (Associated Press, January 12, 2011)
253 2011 Rodney Adkins B IL On March 9th, Gov. Pat Quinn commuted the sentences of everyone (15) on death row to life without parole and signed the bill abolishing the death penalty in Illinois. (ABC News, March 9, 2011)
254 2011 Teodoro Baez L IL See #253
255 2011 Dion Banks B IL See #253
256 2011 Joseph Bannister B IL See #253
257 2011 David Damm W IL See #253
258 2011 Brian Dugan W IL See #253
259 2011 Eric Hanson W IL See #253
260 2011 Ricardo Harris B IL See #253
261 2011 Laurence Lovejoy B IL See #253
262 2011 Anthony Mertz W IL See #253
263 2011 Gary Pate W IL See #253
264 2011 Daniel Ramsey W IL See #253
265 2011 Paul Runge L IL See #253
266 2011 Cecil Sutherland W IL See #253
267 2011 Andrew Urdiales W IL See #253
268 2011 Shawn Hawkins B OH Gov. Kasich commuted his sentence to life in prison without parole because doubts had arisen about the degree of Hawkins’ involvement in the drug-related murder. Ohio’s Parole Board unanimously recommended clemency. (Washington Post, June 8, 2011)
269 2011 Joseph Murphy W OH Gov. Kasich commuted his sentence to life in prison without parole following the unanimous recommendation of clemency by the Ohio Parole Board. The governor said, “Considering Joseph Murphy’s brutally abusive upbringing and the relatively young age at which he committed this terrible crime, the death penalty is not appropriate in this case.” (CBS News, September 26, 2011)
270 2012 Robert Gattis B DE Gov. Jack Markell cited the “unusual and perhaps historic” recommendation of the Delaware Board of Pardons, in a 4-1 vote, to commute Gattis’ sentence after considering disturbing accounts of physical and sexual abuse that Gattis claims to have suffered as a child and which his attorneys argued have never been properly considered by the courts. (The Republic, January 17, 2012)
271 2012 Daniel Greene B GA Greene’s sentence was commuted to a sentence of life without parole by the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles. Evidence presented to the board included testimony from the prosecutor that that he would have sought life without parole rather than the death penalty if life without parole had existed at the time Greene was sentenced, testimony from community members and prison officials that the crime was an outlier of the otherwise peaceful and upstanding life and that Greene was intoxicated at the time of the crime. (Savannah Morning News, April 20, 2012)
272 2012 John Eley B OH Gov. John R. Kasich commuted the death sentence of John Jeffrey Eley to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Kasich stated that Eley, who is of limited mental capacity, acted under the direction of another man who was later acquitted. Without those factors it is doubtful that Eley would have committed this crime. Additionally, the former Mahoning County prosecutor who tried Eley’s case regretted the way the case was handled and its outcome, and had called for clemency. (Washington Post, July 10, 2012)
273 2012 Ronald Post W OH Gov. John R. Kasich commuted the death sentence of Ronald Post to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Kasich followed a recommendation of mercy by the state parole board, which said there were too many problems with how he was represented 30 years ago. (Associated Press, December 17, 2012)
274 2014 Arthur Tyler B OH Gov. John R. Kasich commuted the death sentence of Arthur Tyler to life in prison without the possibility of parole, following a recommendation of the Ohio Parole Board, due to questions surrounding his conviction. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, April 30, 2014)
275 2014 Tommy Waldrip W GA Granted under Gov. Nathan Deal. Sentence commuted to life without parole by the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles. Although the Board did not state a reason for clemency, one issue raised before the board was that the sentences for Waldrip and his accomplices were not proportional, as the other two people convicted for the same murder both received life sentences. (Atlanta Journal Constitution, July 9, 2014)
276 2015 Vernon Evans B MD Granted under Gov. Martin O’Malley. Sentence commuted to life without parole. Maryland abolished the death penalty in 2013, but the legislation was not made retroactive. As a result, inmates on death row remained condemned even though the state did not have the legal means to carry out their sentences. Maryland had not carried out an execution since 2005 due to its lethal injection protocol being found illegal. (Washington Post, January 20, 2015)
277 2015 Anthony Grandison B MD See #276
278 2015 Heath Burch B MD See #276
279 2015 Jody Miles W MD See #276
280 2015 Kimber Edwards B MO Gov. Jay Nixon commuted the death sentence of Kimber Edwards to life without parole. Although Gov. Nixon said he believed Edwards was guilty of arranging for the killing of his ex-wife, the killer, who had received a life sentence, recanted his testimony that Edwards had been involved in the killing.
281 2017 Abelardo Arboleda Ortiz B/L Fed. President Barack Obama granted clemency on January 17, 2017 for Ortiz, a Colombian national with claims of intellectual disability. Ortiz was not in the room when the victim was killed, and his more culpable co-defendant received a life sentence. His attorneys never investigated his intellectual disability. Ortiz was also not granted access to assistance from the Colombian consulate, as required under the Vienna Convention on Consular Rights.
282 2017 Dwight Loving B Mil. President Barack Obama granted clemency to Loving on January 17, 2017.
283 2017 Ivan Teleguz W VA Gov. Terry McAuliffe commuted the death sentence to life in prison, with no chance for parole on April 20, 2017.
284 2017 Jason McGehee W AR On August 25, 2017, Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced his intent to grant clemency by commuting the death sentence to life without possibility of parole. In announcing his decision, Hutchinson said he had considered “many factors,” including a 6-1 recommendation for clemency by the Arkansas Parole Board, a meeting with members of the victim’s family, and “he disparity in sentence given to Mr. McGehee compared to the sentences of his co-defendants.” On September 29, 2017, Gov. Hutchinson issued a proclamation granting clemency to Mr. McGehee.
285 2017 William Joseph Burns W VA On December 29, 2017, Gov. Terry McAuliffe commuted the death sentence to life without possibility of parole. The state courts had found that Burns was mentally incompetent and mental health experts had testified he was unlikely to regain competence.
286 2018 Thomas Whitaker W TX On February 22, 2018, less than an hour before Thomas “Bart” Whitaker was scheduled to be executed, Gov. Greg Abbott commuted Whitaker’s death sentence to life without parole. Following a plea by Whitaker’s father Kent—the sole survivor of an attack in which his wife and only other son were murdered—to spare Bart Whitaker’s life, the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles on February 20 unanimously recommended that Abbott grant clemency. Abbott said his decision to commute Whitaker’s death sentence was based upon several factors, including the unanimous board recommendation, the fact that the triggerperson who killed the victims did not receive the death penalty, the surviving victim’s opposition to execution, and the fact that Whitaker waived all future claims to parole in exchange for life in prison.
287 2018 William Montgomery B OH On March 26, 2018, Ohio Gov. John Kasich commuted William Montgomery’s death sentence to life without the possibility of parole after the Ohio Parole Board recommended clemency by a 6-4 vote.
288 2018 Raymond Tibbetts W OH On July 20, 2018, Ohio Gov. John Kasich commuted Raymond Tibbetts’ death sentence after a juror had indicated he would have voted for life had the defense presented critical mitigating evidence relating to Tibbetts’ upbringing and the prosecution not falsely argued that Tibbetts’ siblings had adjusted normally. Kasich said the commutation was being granted “as a result of fundamental flaws in sentencing phase of his trial.” The Governor said the factors mentioned by the juror “essentially prevented the jury from making an informed decision about whether Tibbetts deserved the death penalty.” The Ohio Parole Board had recommended denying clemency.

* Information on these cases from Michael L. Radelet and Barbara A. Zsembik, “Executive Clemency in Post-Furman Capital Cases,” 27 University of Richmond Law Review 289-314 (1993) (with subsequent revisions from Prof. Radelet).

Additional reasons for clemency are from news accounts on file with DPIC.

1. In 1994, Earl Washington’s death sentence was commuted to life with the possibility of parole by then-Governor Douglas Wilder. On October 2, 2000, DNA tests confirmed Washington’s innocence, and he was granted an absolute pardon by Governor Jim Gilmore. In July 2007, Governor Tim Kaine signed a second pardon granting Washington an unconditional exoneration.

2. Gov. Rick Perry commuted the death sentence of Doil Lane on March 9, 2007. Lane had intellectual disabilities and the state did not challenge this finding. Hence, the governor’s commutation was the result of the Supreme Court’s decision in Atkins v. Virginia (2002) forbidding the execution of such inmates and not necessarily for humanitarian reasons.

NOTE: There have also been a number of reductions of sentence granted for judicial expediency, rather than for humanitarian reasons. (See Radelet & Zsembik, above.) Judicial expediency includes cases in which a person’s death sentence is overturned by the courts and state law requires that the entire trial, including guilt or innocence, be done over again if a death sentence is being sought. Rather than go through a complete re-trial, the state sometimes asks that the death sentence be reduced to a life sentence. In other instances, Governors have issued commutations to resentence former death-row prisoners to life following court declarations that the state’s death-penalty statute is unconstitutional or to comply with U.S. Supreme Court rulings barring the execution of juveniles or defendants with “intellectual disability.” Grants of clemency on these grounds are not included in the list above. In addition, judicial reductions in a death sentence are sometimes described in lay terms as “commutations,” but they are not acts of clemency. Clemency as described on this page refers solely to an action of the executive branch that either commutes a prisoner’s death sentence on humanitarian grounds or pardons the prisoner for the murder charges that led to his or her death sentence.