Primary tabs

Reprieve is a temporary delay in the imposition of the death penalty by order of the state's governor. Classified as a form of executive clemency power. For example, the California state Constitution, Article V Sec. 8 provides that “[s]ubject to application procedures provided by statute, the Governor, on conditions the Governor deems proper, may grant a reprieve, pardon, and commutation, after sentence.” Reasons for reprieves include, among others, the possibility of newly discovered evidence, awaiting the result of an appeal, or the governor's concern that there might have been some error in the record that should be examined. For example, in January 2020, Ohio governor issued a six-month reprieve to a death row prisoner because of a lower court’s expressed concern and a subsequent appeal on whether Ohio’s death penalty procedure violates the Eighth Amendment. However, a reprieve is only a delay, and should be distinguished from a pardon or commutation of the sentence, all of which are permanent. When the reprieve expires, the date for execution can be reset. 

[Last updated in April of 2021 by the Wex Definitions Team]