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June 6, 2017

A timely call for "Reorganizing the Federal Clemency Process"

Paul Larkin, who has written a number of recent notable article on clemency noted here and here, now has this new "Legal Memorandum" at The Heritage Foundation titled ""Reorganizing the Federal Clemency Process."  Here its abstract and "Key Points":

The President relies on the Department of Justice to filter out ineligible applicants and recommend from the remainder which ones should receive clemency, but the department suffers from an actual or apparent conflict of interest.  One proposed remedy would be for Congress to create an independent advisory board like the U.S. Sentencing Commission to review every clemency application and offer the President its recommendations.  A better alternative would be for the President to move the Office of the Pardon Attorney into the Executive Office of the President and use the Vice President as his principal clemency adviser.  The Vice President can offer the President several benefits in the clemency decision- making process that no one else in the government possesses.

Key Points:

Prior related posts:

June 6, 2017 at 04:09 PM | Permalink


Yet another writer that either does not realize or is willfully blind to the fact that the placement within DOJ is a feature rather than bug as seen from the viewpoint of POTUS. By making grants rare there is far less risk of releasing someone who will go on to create political issues.

Posted by: Soronel Haetir | Jun 7, 2017 3:09:56 AM

The founding fathers certainly did not envision a huge department staffed by prosecutors whose primary purpose is to investigate and prosecute the ever expanding code, regulation and law. This federal agency now prosecutes infractions such as an Amish beard cutting incident as well as any number of obscure code violations etc. Yes, there is a place for The Department of Justice, but it should be renamed The Department of Prosecution.

Having these same prosecutors be the gate keepers for the absolute and exclusive presidential power to grant clemency gives this department an inordinate amount of control that was never intended.

Posted by: beth | Jun 7, 2017 1:53:56 PM


DOJ may be the usual route but it is by no means exclusive. Any president who desired could easily set up something else (using entirely political staffers for example). That they don't indicates to me that the office holders are at the very least not unhappy with the current situation.

Posted by: Soronel Haetir | Jun 8, 2017 2:29:32 AM

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