Re clemency in the states, the piece observes:
... In recent decades, an era where politicians don’t want to be seen as soft on crime, the clemency power has become politically dangerous, explained P.S. Ruckman, Jr., political-science professor at Northern Illinois University and author of the Pardon Power Blog.
The most extreme ‘no clemency’ state is Wisconsin, where Walker has made it a policy to not grant any. “There are other governors who may have the same attitude, but they don’t announce it. They just don’t pardon people, or they pardon very rarely,” Ruckman said. But he said there is no state where the governor is known for “handing clemencies out like candy.”
Though it hasn’t made significant difference in the numbers yet, Ruckman thinks that there is a shift in national attitudes towards clemencies. In New York, the fact that a gubernatorial hopeful, Zephyr Teachout, stood for clemency reform, he says, is telling. New Jersey Governor, Chris Christie, who is seeking the Republican Party nomination for president, recently pardoned a man for a drug related offense, saying, “This is no gift from me. This is something John’s earned.”
Ruckman’s home state of Illinois, has seen a bit of change in pardoning culture over the past few gubernatorial terms. Following the now-incarcerated former governor Rod Blagojevich, who granted zero clemencies during his term, Pat Quinn, a Democrat, granted 1,752 requests and denied 3,014—a rate of grants reported to be among the highest for any governor at that time. The current governor, Bruce Rauner, a Republican, has taken steps to maintain a healthy clemency system. Rauner reviews applications on a regular cycle. Since taking office last January, he has granted 21 clemencies, in four batches.
... A healthy clemency system, Ruckman said, is one that reviews applications in a systematic fashion on a regular basis. He points to Arkansas as a good example of a state where pardons are given at a healthy rate. “In Arkansas, the governors regularly pardon—not hundreds of thousands, but two here five here, ten there, that type of thing,” he said.
See full article here.