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Commutation of Sentence; A Fitting Forgiveness

Commutation of Sentence; A Fitting Forgiveness

The tension between constructive and destructive punishment is an ever present reality in the legal system. Is the aim to condemn and punish poor behavior with no intention of reform, or to guide lawbreakers into a redemptive, productive future? At its best, clemency is an effort to tip the scales in the latter direction, aimed at incentivizing good behavior. Continuing on in our series exploring clemency and its various forms, Catanzaro Law will be explaining commutation of sentence, along with its common applications and its conditions. So if you’re interested in learning about what happens when the punishment is too severe for the crime, or when extenuating circumstances warrant leniency, stay tuned!

What Is Commutation Of Sentence?

A good way to understand commutation is as a reduction in the severity of a punishment. Whether it be instances as grave as downgrading a death sentence to life without parole or situations as simple as curtailing severe fines, commutation is the process of partial forgiveness. Commutation is distinguished from pardoning by its restricted nature; where a pardon offers absolute forgiveness, commutation merely lessens the blow.

Common Applications

Almost any sentence can be commuted, except for those involving treason and impeachment, so there are many different applications for commutation. Most commonly used to reduce prison sentences, commutation can be a way to reward prisoners for good behavior and incentivize even further reform. Commutation can also be used to soften the severity of parole parameters and to reduce the weight of heavy fines.

Strings Attached

Because commutation is generally geared toward rehabilitation, it is often accompanied by conditions. Governing forces who offer a commutation will often make it contingent upon law-abiding behavior. This means that, depending on how the commutation is arranged, it’s possible to violate the conditions of the allotted commutation, in which case the sentence reverts to the full force of its original form. 

Interested In Learning More About Commutation Of Sentence?

Mark Catanzaro has experience in all manner of criminal defense and its nuances, including the pursuit of commutation and other forms of clemency. If you’re interested in learning more about commutation, or hoping to discuss the possibility of commutation with a legal professional, Catanzaro Law is your first step toward a reduction in sentence or lessening in the severity of punishment. For a better, brighter future, choose Catanzaro Law! 


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