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But isn't the purpose of that power to use it based on his opinion of the individual case? Not as a way to exercise his personal opinion of the death penalty?

There are no rules here. Remember Pres Clinton comuted the sentece of a convicted finacial villian? The evidence was overwhelming, Clinton set him free.

Tradionally, the Governor has been given that power in order to make a case by case decision as to whether clemency is warranted. Often if a prisoner turns their life around in prison and shows true remorse for their actions, not just for getting caught, a Governor might grant them clemency based on the idea that they are serving a greater good by continuing to live.

OTOH, in Texas, we carried out the execution of Karla Faye Tucker, in spite of her appearance of having turned her life around in prison. Of coursae that could have had something to do with her testimony at trial(never, ever, tell a jury that you achieved orgasm while killing someone).
The death sentence of Kenneth McDuff was overturned by default when we outlawed capital punishment for a few years.

I have to admit there are a lot of mistakes made. And there are a lot of 'political pardons' issued.
I would prefer "Life without parole" to mean ... all your living days without a parole hearing ever until you die and the day after your casket is carried out, YOU ARE PARDONED!

My state actually allows a death penalty. The last one convicted was about 1930 and the last hanging execution was (ta-da!) in my couty before 1900. So no executions for a long time. With DNA evidence and modern investigation techniques there have been a lot of exonerations in the past few years. It takes some time for a prejudiced judicial or law enforcement regiem to die out. And remember, Death is Forever.

I don't favor paying some $50k/year to keep a convicted prisoner in jail. But if you made a mistake, and find out it was not him/her crime you should at least pay some meager stipend to allow the prisoner to survive in freedom and old age. The other choice is kill him and bury him. Cheaper, for sure, but in my Mind, far from Just.

Death is Forever. ... You wanna say you are Sorry???

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