Pardons, Clemency/Sentence Commutations

By Kenneth Abraham - Posted November 9th, 2015
Member, Our America Initiative Advisory Council on Over Criminalization 

A Pardon is issued by the Governor of a State, and forgives one for his/her crimes (some states have other methods to achieve a pardon, such as a Pardons Board). The details vary from state to state, but the process is much the same.  In some states it restores your rights, in some jurisdictions it does not (in which case the next step might be to file to have your record expunged).  If you call me I would be pleased to discuss the details with you. 

If you were convicted in Federal Court, the process is a little different – the application goes to the U.S. Department of Justice and then to the President. 

To qualify for a pardon you should generally have NO arrests within approx. five (5) years of applying (again, different jurisdictions have different requirements). With a few short questions about your situation, I can determine whether you have a reasonable chance of obtaining a pardon.

A Sentence Commutation (some states call it Executive Clemency) is an application to have a sentence reduced, in order to get a prisoner released sooner than his/her original release date. The application in most states goes to a board of state officials, and then to the Governor. Again, I can describe the entire process to you, and with a few questions realistically assess your chances.

With a either a Pardon or a Clemency/Sentence Commutation application, there are no guarantees. The decision is within the discretion of the officials involved. 

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