Decentralizing Clemency: Decentralizing the Commutation Power to Invigorate Sentence Reduction

Ohio State Public Law Working Paper No. 542

Drug Enforcement and Policy Center, No. 19, May 2020

17 Pages Posted: 4 May 2020

See all articles by Riley Kane

Riley Kane

Ohio State University (OSU) - Michael E. Moritz College of Law

Date Written: May 4, 2020

Abstract

Reforming sentencing and reducing prison overcrowding requires a focus on the future to ensure just punishments and the past to re-evaluate harsh punishments from the ‘tough on crime’ era. This paper focuses on ending those past wrongs. Executive clemency is sometimes discussed as a method for addressing harsh punishments, but there are only so many governors and Presidents. This paper proposes amending the Ohio Constitution to grant the elected county prosecutors a commutation power subject to veto by the governor. This would decentralize clemency and create a new, potentially system-reshaping tool to address harsh sentences and empower reform-minded prosecutors. The paper additionally discusses other methods to expand clemency and favors adopting the novel constitutional amendment in addition to other reforms for maximum impact.

Keywords: Decarceration, Clemency powers, Clemency decentralization, Decentralizing commutation powers, Sentence reduction, Reforming sentencing, prosecutorial clemency powers

Suggested Citation

Kane, Riley, Decentralizing Clemency: Decentralizing the Commutation Power to Invigorate Sentence Reduction (May 4, 2020). Ohio State Public Law Working Paper No. 542. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3592560 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3592560

Riley Kane (Contact Author)

Ohio State University (OSU) - Michael E. Moritz College of Law ( email )

55 West 12th Avenue
Columbus, OH 43210
United States

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