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There are other reasonable explanations for this decline in clemencies related to the death penalty.
Cathleen Burnett has examined 50 clemency petitions in Missouri to gain a better understanding of the factors surrounding clemency procedures in that state in her book, Justice Denied: Clemency Appeals in Death Penalty Cases, but does not address the variation in the distribution of the clemencies granted nationally or the negligible number of commutations granted in Missouri compared with other states (Ryan, 2002).
For example, in examining the clemency data for the past 10 years in Ohio during the Voinovich and Taft administrations, 156 clemencies were granted out of the 5,322 applications received, or less than 3 percent.
Not much is known about the manner in which clemencies are granted and if there are regional differences in their distribution.
The most important factor contributing to the number of clemencies that are granted in capital cases is public opinion.