In addition to the parole release process, an incarcerated offender may seek to reduce the amount of time to be served in prison by petitioning the Governor for clemency through the commutation process. If granted, a commutation could provide, for example, an earlier parole eligibility date or allow an offender previously ineligible for parole to become eligible for parole (i.e. first degree murder).
The commutation process begins when the offender submits a petition to the Governor’s Council. The Council is an independently elected eight member council. The Council submits the petition for commutation to the Parole Board, acting in its capacity as the ‘Advisory Board of Pardons’. If the Advisory Board of Pardons determines the petition merits further consideration, a public hearing is held by the Board after a comprehensive investigation is conducted and a report is generated. The victim, the victim’s family and others are able to testify at the hearing about their views on the petition, or they may submit written, audiotape or videotaped statements.
After the public hearing, the recommendation of the Advisory Board is forwarded to the Governor. If the Governor approves the petition, the matter is referred to the Governor’s Council which may hold another public hearing at which the victim and the victim’s family may testify. The Governor’s Council then votes on whether to give their consent to the commutation.