An official website of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts
This page, Executive Clemency Process, is part of
This page, Executive Clemency Process, is offered by

Executive Clemency Process

Here we outline the process that a clemency petition goes through once it is submitted to the Massachusetts Parole Board for consideration.

Petition

A petition for clemency is first submitted to the Parole Board, which, in this capacity, sits as the Advisory Board of Pardons.

Hearing

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.

Governor's Consideration

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. 

Feedback