This term is derived from reprendre, to take back, and signifies the withdrawing of a sentence for an interval of time, and operates in delay of execution. It is granted by the favor of the pardoning power, or by the court who tried the prisoner.
Reprieves are sometimes granted ex necessitate legis; for example, when a woman is convicted of a capital offence, after judgment she may allege pregnancy in delay of execution. In order, however, to render this plea available she must be quick with child, the law presuming, perhaps absurdly enough, that before that period, life does not commence in the foetus. The judge is also bound to grant a reprieve when the prisoner becomes insane.