News Release


Washington, DC (2001, exact date unknown) -- The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers recognizes that the power to pardon, which is reserved to the president and the governors of the various states under the federal and state constitutions, is an essential safety valve to correct and relieve injustice, by allowing for the exercise of compassion; this power is guaranteed by those constitutions and should not be amended or abolished.

NACDL recognizes that there are countless unjustly imprisoned individuals within the United States, including the innocent and people who received unduly harsh sentences. We therefore endorse any system that provides an opportunity for these aggrieved individuals to have their cases reviewed and to be freed from further incarceration and other penalties, including the loss of civil rights.

Without entering into the current controversy, we are pleased to hear Congressional leaders express concern about the economic inequities that can affect the quality of justice in this country. NACDL calls upon Congress to engage in a robust review that leads to increased funding for the defense of the criminally accused and effective representation in meaningful post-conviction review. The resulting improved defense for the indigent-accused will significantly reduce injustice and alleviate the need for the power of pardon to correct such injustice.

NACDL further urges Congressional leaders to limit the role of the Department of Justice in reviewing applications for pardons and recommending whether they should be granted, since the department is the same office that prosecuted the applicants and is therefore ill-suited to render fair and reasonable judgments regarding the appropriate exercise of compassion. Indeed, Congress should recognize that the department has a conflict of interest and should not have a controlling voice regarding whether a pardon should issue.

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NACDL Communications Department

The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers is the preeminent organization advancing the mission of the criminal defense bar to ensure justice and due process for persons accused of crime or wrongdoing. A professional bar association founded in 1958, NACDL's many thousands of direct members in 28 countries – and 90 state, provincial and local affiliate organizations totaling up to 40,000 attorneys – include private criminal defense lawyers, public defenders, military defense counsel, law professors and judges committed to preserving fairness and promoting a rational and humane criminal justice system.