In the United States, executive clemency refers to the general powers of the president and of governors to pardon, grant amnesty, commutation, or reprieve to individuals who have either been convicted of or may face the prospect of conviction for a criminal offense. This power is limited to federal offenses in the case of the president, and state offenses in the case of governors—whose executive clemency powers are generally outlined within each state constitution. It is unclear whether the acceptance of executive clemency constitutes an admission of guilt, or if an executive may extend clemency unto themselves. One of the most famous examples of the exercise of the power of executive clemency was the 1974 pardon of Richard Nixon by President Gerald Ford.
[Last updated in July of 2021 by the Wex Definitions Team]