Remedying Wrongful Conviction: Comparisons between The Royal Prerogative of Mercy in England and Wales and Clemency in the USA

Sarah Lucy Cooper, Hannah Burrows

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


    The problem of wrongful conviction is ?present around the world.? This situation has motivated stakeholders to consider ways to prevent, identify, correct, and atone wrongful conviction. This has led to an increased understanding about how criminal justice systems, including those established in the United States of America (USA) and England and Wales (E&W), produce wrongful convictions. In both jurisdictions, individuals, groups, and institutions have emerged to pursue wrongful conviction-focused research, litigation, and reform. In both the USA and E&W, the clemency/pardon power has an error correction function. In 1993, the United States Supreme Court (SCOTUS) declared clemency the ?fail safe" of the American criminal justice system, and the ?historic remedy for preventing miscarriages of justice?? This ruling thrust clemency into each state?s mechanics for correcting error. Months later, in 1994, the High Court of England and Wales stated, ?The prerogative of mercy?is now a constitutional safeguard against mistakes??, and that ?? pardon should be reserved for cases where it can be established that the convicted person was morally and technically innocent.? Subsequently, the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC), the body responsible for investigating miscarriages of justice in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, was given the power to refer cases (with reasons) to the Secretary of State so s/he could consider the exercise of the prerogative of mercy. This chapter provides a compact comparative review of the relationship between wrongful conviction and the clemency/pardon power in the USA and E&W. Part I outlines current clemency/pardon frameworks in both jurisdictions. Part II explores common themes across both jurisdictions, namely (1) eligibility and standards of proof; (2); transparency and reviewability; and (3) political will. It concludes that both jurisdictions encounter similar challenges when utilizing the clemency/pardon power to correct error, and offers five ideas for fostering better practice in both jurisdictions.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationExecutive Clemency: Comparative and Empirical Perspectives
    EditorsAndrew Novak, Daniel Pascoe
    Place of PublicationUK
    ISBN (Print)9780367243579
    Publication statusPublished (VoR) - 30 Jul 2020

    Publication series

    NameRoutledge Research in Human Rights Law


    Dive into the research topics of 'Remedying Wrongful Conviction: Comparisons between The Royal Prerogative of Mercy in England and Wales and Clemency in the USA'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this