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Beyond Penn's Treaty

The Life of Thomas Eddy; Comprising an Extensive Correspondence

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stances can arise in any case, which ought to vary
the punishment prescribed for the particular offence.
No code so perfect has yet been framed, and until
such a one is promulgated, it is necessary that the
power of pardoning should reside somewhere, to pre-
vent that injustice in particular cases which the legis-
lator did not foresee, or could not avoid. By our
constitution, this power is confided to the governor,
the chief executive magistrate.*
* In cases of treason and murder, the governor cannot pardon, but may
reprieve the convict until the next meeting of the legislature, who may
pardon if they think fit.

And under the present penal laws, except in those
cases where the punishment of death still remains,
the power of pardoning may be exercised without
violating the principle advanced by the philosopher
of Milan. It may be asserted, that, in the deliberate
and impartial manner in which justice is adminis-
tered in our courts, it is scarcely possible that any
man can be presented, by a grand jury, tried and
convicted by a petit jury of twelve men, in the
presence of the court and the world, without a degree
of guilt deserving of some punishment. Imprison-
ment for a short period, under the mild and humane
regulations of the state prison, cannot, in cases the
most favourable to the prisoners, be deemed unjust.
It may be laid down, then, as a general principle,
that no person, convicted of a crime, and sentenced
to imprisonment, ought to be pardoned, until he has
suffered a punishment proportioned to the degree of
his guilt, or at least so much as may satisfy the com-
munity he has injured. Under the guidance of this
principle, it is believed, that the power of pardoning
may be made conducive to a more perfect dispensa-
tion of justice, and subservient to the plan of refor-
mation intended by a penitentiary prison. It will
not be thought useless to endeavour to fix some general
rules for the exercise of a power, which, if arbitrary
and capricious, may produce consequences neither