Reorganizing the Federal Clemency Process

The Heritage Foundation, No. 206, May 2017

5 Pages Posted: 25 Aug 2017

Date Written: May 21, 2017


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.

Keywords: Clemency, Clemency Power, Pardons, Pardon Clause, Pardon Power

Suggested Citation

Larkin, Jr., Paul James, Reorganizing the Federal Clemency Process (May 21, 2017). The Heritage Foundation, No. 206, May 2017. Available at SSRN:

Paul James Larkin, Jr. (Contact Author)

The Heritage Foundation ( email )

214 Massachusetts Ave NE
Washington, DC 20002-4999
United States
202-608-6190 (Phone)

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