The power to grant executive clemency-pardons and commutations-is held in Massachusetts by the governor, with the advice and consent of the Massachusetts Governor's Council. Acting as the Advisory Board of Pardons, the Massachusetts Parole Board reviews all petitions for executive clemency submitted to the governor for consideration and submits a recommendation about each case.
As the Advisory Board of Pardons, Board Members ensure that the requirements for clemency are met, conduct investigations about petitioners, determine whether a hearing should be held, conduct hearings, and make a recommendation to the governor accordingly.
The Massachusetts Parole Board Executive Clemency Unit helps to facilitate the Board's review of petitions for pardons and commutations.
A pardon is a forgiveness of the offender's underlying offense. Parole Board Members first review the case to assess whether or not it warrants a hearing. If they determine that a hearing should be held, Board Members conduct the hearing and the Full Board then makes a recommendation to the governor.
To be granted a pardon, a petitioner must have demonstrated "good citizenship," as well as a specific, verified, and compelling need for a pardon. In making its decision, the Board views evidence, including support for the petitioner in the institution and community, his or her accomplishments and achievements, and the nature and extent of opposition to the petition.
Unlike a pardon, a commutation does not mean that there is forgiveness for the underlying offense. It simply means that the period of incarceration served for the offense has been reduced. The initial process is similar to the process undertaken for a pardon in that the Board determines if a hearing is warranted. The Full Board then conducts a commutation hearing, which is open to the public, and makes a recommendation to the governor based on its findings.
Julie Ching Pease
Executive Clemency Coordinator
Executive Clemency Unit
12 Mercer Road
Natick, MA 01760
Executive Clemency Guidelines file size 1MB
State House, Room 184
Boston, MA 02133
Phone: 617-725-4015, 4016