Executive clemency is a powerful tool for those who are still suffering the consequences of past convictions. 

Clemency consists of two separate forms of relief: pardons and sentence commutations. Pardons serve to eliminate or minimize the immigration consequences of convictions on non-citizens. Sentence commutations are requests to terminate the sentences of people who are incarcerated, making them eligible for immediate release. 

The Clemency Project submits applications for current and former CAL clients seeking both forms of relief. Clemency is a tool that is often either underutilized or utilized without the benefit of competent counsel. The Clemency Project works with clients—sometimes for years—to advocate for clemency on their behalf. Lawyers in the Clemency Project collaborate closely with clients in order to understand and represent clients’ stories in a way that is both authentic and showcases their full humanity.

The Clemency Project is an important part of CAL’s efforts to advocate for our clients even beyond their convictions and appeals. We believe that people should not suffer forever due to their convictions. Pardons recognize the oversized and disproportionate impact of convictions on non-citizens; commutations recognize that people evolve and grow, and should not be defined by a single act that, in many cases, occurred years or decades ago. The Clemency Project provides back-end advocacy for clients who are still bearing the consequences of these old convictions.  

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