Kansas Trails in Clemency Grants

Kansas trails most states in how frequently clemency is applied for and granted, but advocates are hoping that will change under Governor Laura Kelly.

The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the eight she issued last week were the most in at least 15 years.

Five were commutations, which reduce or eliminate a sentence altogether.

The other three were pardons, which effectively wipe away a conviction, making it easier to do things like apply for professional licenses.

The situation is far different in other states.

Oklahoma, for instance, has averaged more than 100 pardons every year for each of the past 15 years, according to the Restoration Rights Project, which tracks state-by-state approaches to clemency and other criminal justice policies.

The organization ramped up clemency applications at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in a bid to reduce prison overcrowding, and to grant relief for inmates who were at risk for complications from the virus or had little time left on their sentence.