Clemency refers to the lowering or moderating of a jail or prison sentence. If a defendant has gone through the appeals process and does not have any other options, he or she may choose to pursue a clemency request from the Governor.
The process of pursuing clemency may take more than a year, and if the Clemency and Pardons Board considers the request, there are numerous factors it will look at.
Process for pursuing clemency
According to the State of Washington Office of the Governor, the person (or person’s attorney) seeking a sentencing reduction files a petition. The petition application requests information about a number of things, including:
- If the petitioner exhausted all applicable remedies
- Details about each conviction
- Information about prior convictions
- Identification of pending proceedings
- Statements by the petitioner regarding rehabilitation efforts and any extraordinary circumstances
Factors considered for clemency
The Clemency and Pardons Board will review the petition and determine if the petitioner deserves a hearing. If so, the board will listen to testimonies from the petitioner and support team as well as any party with connections to the victim.
According to the Washington State Legislature, the board members will consider the impact of the crime on the victim, the victim’s survivors and the community. The board considers the seriousness of the crime, the petitioner’s acceptance of remorse and responsibility, the need for clemency, the petitioner’s personal development and positive changes since the crime, the amount of time served in custody, the petitioner’s conduct in prison and the petitioner’s release plan.
Based on facts and testimonies, the board makes a decision whether or not to recommend release or sentence reduction. The Governor then can agree or disagree to grant the request.