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Pardon also termed clemency was originally a known as the royal prerogative of mercy of the monarch of Great Britain and the British Empire. It was the power of the monarch to release an individual who had been convicted of a crime from that conviction and its intended penalty. A pardon is granted after the sentence is completed, clemency occurs by early release or other relief from punishment. Today pardons and clemency are granted in many countries when individuals may have been wrongly convicted of a crime or have demonstrated that they have fulfilled their debt to society.

Table of contents
1 Pardons and Clemency in the United States
2 Pardons in Canada
3 Clemency in Canada
4 United Kingdom: Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974
5 External links

Pardons and Clemency in the United States

Under federal law in the United states it is an exercise of executive discretion that is granted to the President in the United States Constitution, Art. II, Sec. 2 where it states:

he shall have power to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States, except in cases of impeachment.

Applications for pardons are sent to the U.S. Pardon Attorney which is an Office in the Department of Justice. All federal pardon petitions are addressed to the President of the United States and granted by a sitting president. Under state law the governor of each state also has a pardon/clemency power for offenses under state criminal law.

To petition for a pardon under U.S. Federal law contact:

Office of the Pardon Attorney
U.S. Department of Justice
500 First Street, N.W., Suite 400
Washington, D.C. 20530

tel.: (202) 616-6070 fax: (202) 616-6069

According to an analysis of information from the Office of the Pardon Attorney on their web site (see external links below), since 1977 presidents have received about 600 pardon or clemency petitions a year and grant around 10%. On Bill Clinton's last day of office, he pardoned 140 people. There was a minor scandal connected to this; see the Clinton article for more details.

Pardons in Canada

In Canada pardons are considered by the National Parole Board under the Criminal Records Act, the Criminal Code and several other laws. For Criminal Code crimes there is a three year waiting period for minor offences and a five year waiting period for indictable offences. The waiting period commences after the sentence is completed. An application booklet can be obtained from the National Parole Board at 1-800-874-2652. There is a $50 nonrefundable fee for applying for a pardon. The address for a pardon application booklet is:

Clemency and Pardons Division
National Parole Board
340 Laurier Avenue West
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0R1

Clemency in Canada

In Canada clemency is granted by the Governor-General of Canada or the Governor in Council (the federal cabinet) under the Royal Prerogative of Mercy. Applications are also made to the National Parole Board, as in pardons, but clemency may involve the commutation of a sentence, or the remission of all or part of the sentence, a respite from the sentence (for a medical condition) or a relief from a prohibition (i.e., to allow someone to drive that has been prohibited from driving).

United Kingdom: Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974

In the United Kingdom, the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 governs pardons. A royal pardon for an incorrect imprisonment is much as stated above in the Canada section. In addition, people who have committed minor crimes (less than three years in jail) have them struck from their criminal records if they do not reoffend. The point of this is that people do not have a lifelong blot on their records because of a minor indiscretion in youth.

The non-offending period is 5 years for a non-custodial sentence, up to 10 years for a prison sentence of 6 months to 2½ years. for a young offender (under 18), the non-offending period is five years even for prison sentences

This Act does not apply to those working with vulnerable groups, such as teachers and social workers, who must always disclose all convictions.

External links