A pardon is a forgiveness of the offender's underlying offense. The Parole Board first reviews the case to assess whether or not it warrants a hearing. If the Board determines that a hearing should be held, they will conduct a hearing and the full Board will then make 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 Parole Board views evidence, including support for the petitioner in the institution and community, their accomplishments and achievements, and the nature and extent of any 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 Parole Board determines if a hearing is warranted. The entire Parole Board then conducts a commutation hearing, which is open to the public, and makes a recommendation to the Governor based on its findings.