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Commutation of sentence involves the reduction of legal penalties, especially in terms of imprisonment. Unlike a pardon, a commutation does not nullify the conviction and is often conditional. Clemency is a similar term, meaning the lessening of the penalty of the crime without forgiving the crime itself. The act of clemency is a reprieve. Today, pardons and reprieves are granted in many countries when individuals have demonstrated that they have fulfilled their debt to society, or are otherwise deserving (in the opinion of the pardoning official) of a pardon or reprieve.
In the United States, reduction of a sentence is handled by an executive head of government and is normally linked to prisoners' good behavior. The President of the United States solely holds the power to commute federal sentences while commutations of state charges are handled by the governor's office.
Around the world, countries accord their head of state or other competent authority with the power to issue a pardon or reduce a sentence either in consultation with other parts of the government or unilaterally.
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