Clemency is not a popular word. While candidates talk a lot about religion, I don't hear words like compassion, forgiveness and mercy.
The Missouri legislature has two clemency bills under consideration, HB 1175 and HB1067. These bills, both sponsored by Republicans, the super-majority party, would establish parole hearings for inmates who have long sentences, even life without parole. The Parole Board would hear their cases every three years and could recommend clemency to the governor.
This is not a very big deal. It gives men and women a hearing. It gives hope, for instance, to a 19-year-old, certified as an adult when he was 16, and sentenced to life plus 300 years. If the bill passed, he would know that when he turned 55 or 60, he would get a hearing. I have no idea what the boy did, but offering him a little hope would be a gift of clemency in its own right.
The bills are in limbo. One had a hearing in committee, but the committee chair wants tighter legal language and the sponsor doesn't want to make the changes. The other has not had a hearing and the sponsor is seeking support from the Speaker of the House. No word yet on whether that support is forthcoming.