A petition for clemency is first submitted to the Parole Board, which, in this capacity, sits as the Advisory Board of Pardons.
The Advisory Board of Pardons reviews these petitions. If, after review and investigation, the Board determines that the petition warrants a hearing, a public hearing is held. To determine whether a hearing is warranted, the Advisory Board consults the Governor's Clemency Guidelines. In addition, the Board looks for petitions that indicate that the petitioner will be a law-abiding citizen and presents no risk of re-offense. The Board reviews the petition, alongside the petitioner's criminal, social, and where applicable, institutional history to assist in that determination. At the hearing, the petitioner is questioned by the Board, as are any witnesses appearing on their behalf. The pertinent District Attorney's Office is afforded the opportunity to present to the Board. These hearings are videotaped and the recordings are made publicly available.
Recommendation to the Governor
Following the hearing, the Board will consider all pertinent evidence and make a recommendation on the clemency petition to the Governor.
Upon receipt of a favorable recommendation from the Board, the Office of the Governor will evaluate the petition. The Governor will make the ultimate determination on whether to proceed and grant the petition.
Advice and Consent of the Council
Per the Massachusetts Constitution, a grant of clemency requires the advice and consent of the Governor's Council. Any decision by the Governor to grant clemency will not be given effect unless it is approved by the Governor's Council.