The Political Roots of Executive Clemency

American Politics Research, Vol. 34, No. 6, pp. 825-846

Posted: 25 May 2007 Last revised: 20 Jan 2015

See all articles by Andrew B. Whitford

Andrew B. Whitford

University of Georgia - Department of Public Administration and Policy

Holona LeAnne Ochs

Howard University; University of Kansas - Department of Political Science

Date Written: 2006

Abstract

It is a widespread conventional wisdom that presidential pardons - the only way for offenders to remove or eliminate all disabilities that arise from a federal or military offense - are political. We move beyond this belief and assess five broad ways that federal pardons may be systematically influenced by the policy agendas present in a separated powers system. We model the aggregate dispensation of clemency appeals (requests for pardons) using Prais-Winsten regression and find that the probability of denials for executive clemency reflects the president's own agenda and ideological position, Congressional attention to criminal justice issues, and the homicide rate. In sum, both policy signals and the political processes they signify permeate the presidential pardons process.

Keywords: Presidency, executive branch, pardons, clemency, executive privilege, criminal justice, separated powers, policy signals, policy agendas

JEL Classification: H11, K10

Suggested Citation

Whitford, Andrew B. and Ochs, Holona LeAnne, The Political Roots of Executive Clemency (2006). American Politics Research, Vol. 34, No. 6, pp. 825-846, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=988988

Andrew B. Whitford (Contact Author)

University of Georgia - Department of Public Administration and Policy ( email )

Athens, GA 30602
United States
706-542-2898 (Phone)
706-583-0610 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://andrewwhitford.com

Holona LeAnne Ochs

Howard University ( email )

2400 Sixth Street, NW
Washington, DC 20059
United States

University of Kansas - Department of Political Science ( email )

1541 Lilac Lane
Lawrence, KS 66044
United States

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