The Political Dynamics of Capital Punishment Commutations

15 April 2022, Version 1
This content is an early or alternative research output and has not been peer-reviewed at the time of posting.


We explore political explanations for U.S. governors' willingness to commute death sentences in their state. Across descriptive tests and pre-registered regression specifications, we find little evidence that election timing or term limits affect either the probability of commuting death sentences or the number of such sentences governors might commute. We do however find that governors are more likely to commute sentences during the "lame duck" period after their successor's election but before their inauguration.


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