Anthony J. Connolly
In law, clemency has been defined as “an official act by an executive that removes all or some of the actual or possible punitive consequences of a criminal conviction” (Moore 1989: 4). Within those modern nation-states in which traditional liberal principles such as equality and the rule of law apply, the topic of clemency generates a range of important—and often controversial—political, legal, and philosophical issues. These issues include the extent of judicial supervision of the executive branch of government, the need to ensure the fair application of criminal law, and the need to temper the strict application of legal rules by considerations of justice or societal welfare. The power of clemency has had a long history in human societies. Wherever individuals or institutions have been granted power over others in relation to the punishment of offenders, that power has generally been supplemented by the power to pardon those offenders. The ...