Definition - What does Reprieve mean?

A reprieve is the act of delaying or withdrawing a certain sentence given to a criminal for a length of time. Reprieves are often given for death sentences.

Often, the purpose of a reprieve is to give the criminal a chance to find justification to reduce the sentence. Reprieves are usually given by a court, or by another authority with pardoning power.

Justipedia explains Reprieve

There are many different reasons why a person could get a reprieve for his or her sentence. For example, if the court has reason to believe that the criminal may not be guilty, this could cause a reprieve. If a criminal goes insane, this could also cause a reprieve.

If, during a reprieve, it is discovered that the inmate is in fact not guilty, then he or she can have his or her sentence completely canceled. However, reprieves are usually only a delay in punishment, or a lessening of it.

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