Prof. Ben Gershman on Huff Post: Pardoning Criminals — Appropriate Mercy or Perverting Justice?

Professor Ben Gershman blogged on Huffington Post about the recent string of pardons by the governor of Mississippi.

Gershman focuses on the creation of the pardon and how it has influenced the public’s understanding of justice. The ability to pardon is, “engraved in the U.S. Constitution (“The President shall have the Power to Grant Reprieves and Pardons”) and according to the Framers, was intended to be a ‘benign prerogative’ in the interests of ‘humanity and good policy.’” The power was created to protect those who were incarcerated despite their innocence as a failsafe against the flaws of our judicial system. As Gershman points out, however, “there are no standards or guidelines to regulate a unilateral executive decision that is unconditional, final, and cannot be appealed.”

The article does not argue against the use of pardons by those few political leaders who possess the power; Gershman explains that the pardon should be used more effectively and with greater justification. “Inequities can never be eliminated. Nonetheless, when a president or governor exercises the unique and unreviewable power of granting official mercy, he should exercise it in a way that makes the public confident that he is exercising it wisely and benevolently.”

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