When a governor commutes a sentence of death, typically to one of life imprisonment either with an extended mandatory term or without possibility of parole, how is this action to be understood? As former Governor Pat Brown's book about his commutation decisions illustrates, in a period of widespread support for the death penalty, each commutation contains an appeal for popular support and understanding as to why the decision was made. Where the case for commutation cannot be made to the public's satisfaction, a governor is not likely to act.
Bruce Ledewitz & Scott Staples,
The Role of Executive Clemency in Modern Death Penalty Cases,
U. Rich. L. Rev.
Available at: http://scholarship.richmond.edu/lawreview/vol27/iss2/5