50-State Comparison: Pardon Policy & Practice

  • Section 1 provides a chart comparing pardon policy and practice across jurisdictions.
  • Section 2 lists jurisdictions by frequency and regularity of their pardon grants.
  • Section 3 sorts jurisdictions by how the administration of the power is structured.
  • Section 4 provides state-by-state summaries of pardon policy and practice, with links to more detailed analysis and legal citations.

1.  Comparison of pardon policies

In states where pardoning is characterized as “frequent and regular,” there is a regular pardon process with a high percentage of applications granted (30% or more); where pardoning is “sparing,” there is a regular process but a low grant rate; where pardons are infrequent, uneven, or rare, the chart will generally indicate numbers.  The states are listed by frequency in Section 2 (“Relative Pardoning Frequency”).

Updated:  May 2020 

StateType Of AdministrationType Of ProcessEligibility RequirementsEffectFrequency of GrantsAlternative Restoration
ALIndependent board appointed by governor exercises pardon power, except governor has authority in capital cases.
Ala. Const. amend. 38 (amending Art. V § 124); Ala. Code §§ 15-22-20 through 15-22-40. The board must make a full annual report to the governor. § 15-22-24(b).
Public hearings at regular intervals; 30 days' notice must be given to the attorney general, prosecutor, sentencing judge, chief of police and the county sheriff, and the victim. Ala. Code § 15-22-23l. Each board member gives reasons for vote. Process takes about one year.Following completion of sentence, incl. fine, no pending charges, or after 3 years "permanent parole" unless pardon sought for actual innocence. Ala. Code § 15-22-36(c). Federal and out-of-state offenders eligible.Only as specified in grant (full pardons rare); predicate unless expressly provided. Ala. Code § 15-22-36.Frequent and Regular: More than 500 pardons granted annually; 2000+ restoration of rights.None.
AKGovernor decides, parole board must be consulted but advice not binding. Alaska Const. art. III, § 21; Alaska Stat. § 33.20.080.No formal regulations, no public hearing. Parole board staff investigates, consults with DA and court, prepares confidential recommendation to governor. Alaska Stat. § 33.20.080.Parole board staff must find a person eligible to apply on merits.Conviction set aside, may not serve as predicate or be used by licensing board, but conduct may be taken into account. Rare: Only three pardons since 1995.Judicial set aside after deferred sentencing. Alaska Stat. § 12.55.085 et seq.
AZGovernor decides, may not act without affirmative clemency board recommendation. Ariz. Const. art. V, § 5; Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 31-402(A). Governor must publish reasons for each grant, and report regularly to legislature. Ariz. Rev. Stat. §§ 31-445, -446.Board meets monthly; must publish application, hold public hearing, publish recommendation to governor with reasons. Ariz. Rev. Stat. §§ 31-401, 31-402.Any Arizona felony offender. Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 31-402.Pardon relieves legal consequences, but conviction must still be reported and is given predicate effect. 68 Ariz. Op. Att'y Gen. 17.Infrequent: Pardons increasingly rare since 1990; Gov. Brewer issued only 12 pardons in her 6 years in office, all in her last year.
Governor Ducey has issued no pardons to date.
Judicial set-aside for non-serious offenders; court restores firearms. Ariz. Rev. Stat. §§ 13-905 through 13-907.
ARGovernor decides, parole board must be consulted but advice not binding. Ark. Const. art. VI, § 18; Ark. Code Ann. § 16-93-204(a). Governor must report to legislature on all grants with reasons. Ark. Const. art. VI, § 18.No public hearing. Parole board must give 30 days' prior notice of favorable recommendation, and governor must give 30 days' public notice (including statement of reasons) to prosecutor and victim. Ark. Code Ann. §§ 5-4-607(d)(1);16-93-204(c)(1); 16-93-207(a).No restrictions. Federal and out-of-state offenders are eligible to apply. Ark. Const. art. VI, § 18; Ark. Code Ann. § 16-93-204.Relieves legal disabilities, expungement automatic in all but cases involving serious violence; must specifically restore firearms rights. May not be used as predicate or to enhance. Ark. Code Ann. §§ 16-93-301 to 16-93-303.Frequent and Regular: About 100 grants each year, 300-500 applications annually.Sealing for first offenders and probationers. Ark. Code Ann. § 16-93-1201
et seq.; § 5-4-311.
CAGovernor decides, parole board may be consulted. For recidivists, board must be consulted, majority of supreme justices must recommend.. Cal. Const. art. V, § 8; Cal. Penal §§ 4800, 4812-4813, 4852.16. Governor report grants to legislature, including facts and reasons for grants. Cal. Const. art. V, § 8; Cal. Penal § 4852.16.No provision for public hearing. Certificate of rehabilitation from court (PD representation), or direct application to board if non-resident or misdemeanant. Cal. Penal Code § 4852 et seq.10 years after completion of sentence.Described as "an honor," restores civil rights and removes occupational bars, but no expungement; guns separately restored. May be used as predicate. Cal. Penal Code §§ 4852.15, 4853.Frequent and regular: Under the most recent governors, a regular pardoning practice has been reestablished after a decade of neglect. Set-aside for probationers; certificate of relief. Cal. Penal Code § 1203.4(a). Sealing of certain convictions, and judicial certificates.
COGovernor decides ("subject to such regulation as may be prescribed by law relative to the manner of applying"). Governor sends legislature "a transcript of the petition, all proceedings, and the reasons for his action." Colo. Const. art. IV, § 7. Non-statutory advisory scheme.No hearing, governor as a matter of policy seeks views of corrections authorities, DA and judge. Colo. Rev. Stat. §§ 16-17-101; 16-17-102.No eligibility restrictions.Restores civil rights and firearms privileges, assists with licensing and employment, recognizes meritorious achievement and rewards exceptional citizenship. Does not authorize sealing. Infrequent: Until the final 18 months of Governor Hickenlooper’s term (2017-2018), when he issued moire than 100 pardons, the pardon power had not been functioning in a meaningful fashion for many years, and the current governor has reconstituted the pardon board. Governor Bill Ritter issued several dozen pardons at the end of his term.Certain convictions may be sealed after waiting periods from 3 to 10 yrs. Colo. Rev. Stat. § 24-72-308.6. Judicial certificates also available.
CTIndependent board appointed by governor exercises pardon power. Conn. Gen. Stat. § 54-124a(f).Public hearings at regular intervals at which applicant must be present, with reasons for denial given. Board may dispense with hearing in certain classes of cases. Process takes about one year. Conn. Gen. Stat. § 54-124a(e)?(k).5 years following completion of sentence; misdemeanants may apply. Provisional pardon/Certificate of Relief may be sought any time after sentencing. Conn. Gen. Stat. § 54-130e(b).Relieves all legal disabilities, results automatically in "erasure" of conviction, destruction of records after three years, after which no predicate effect. Provisional pardon relieves one or more "barriers and forfeitures." Conn. Gen. Stat. § 54-142a(d).Frequent and Regular: The overall grant rate of those eligible for both types of relief has increased steadily in recent years from 47% in 2013 to 77% in 2018, when 767 of 983 eligible applicants were granted pardon, 443 by the expedited procedure authorized in 2015. None; law prohibits discrimination in licensing and employment. Conn. Gen. Stat. § 46a-80.
DEGovernor decides, may not act without affirmative clemency board recommendation. Del. Const. art. VII, § 1. Governor must report periodically to legislature. Id.Pardon board, chaired by lieutenant governor, public hearings at regular intervals, recommendations and reasons announced. Favorable recommendations sent to governor. Process takes about six months. Del. Const. art. VII; Del. Code. Ann. tit.11, § 4362.3-5 years following completion of sentence, absent hardship; misdemeanants may apply.Relieves disabilities except constitutional prohibition against holding state office for "infamous offense." May be used as predicate and to enhance subsequent sentence. Del. Code. Ann. tit. 11, § 4364. Effective 2020, all pardoned convictions may be sealed. § 4375.Frequent and Regular: Governor John Carney granted more than 800 pardons in his first two years in office, while his predecessor Jack Markell granted 1569 pardons during his 6-year tenure.  About 85% of applications received are approved by Board and 90% of those granted by governor. Applications have tripled since 2005.Expungement for deferred adjudication and diversion, pardoned misdemeanor convictions. Del. Code Ann. tit.
11, §§ 4371-4375.
DCPresident decides under a non-statutory advisory scheme. U.S. Const. art II, § 2.Informal process described in 28 C.F.R. Part 1 and United States Attorneys Manual. No time limit, and applications may remain pending for years.5 years after sentence or release from confinement. 28 C.F.R. Part 1.Relieves legal disabilities and signifies rehabilitation and good character. May be used as predicate. 1995 WL 861618 (1995).Rare: Only a handful of DC offenders have been pardoned by the president since 1980.Expungement of minor D.C. Code offenses. D.C. Code § 16-801 et seq.
FLGovernor decides with concurrence of two cabinet officials. The governor and three cabinet officials act as pardon board. Fla. Const. art. IV, §8 (a); Fla. Stat. ch. 940.01, 940.05. Governor reports to legislature each restoration and pardon. Id. at 940.01.Public hearing for pardon, and for restoration of rights for many offenders (offenses specified in clemency rules). Hearings are held on a quarterly basis, DA and victims notified. Separate process for firearms restoration.Eligibility immediately following completion of sentence. Out-of-state and federal offenders eligible for ROR but not pardon (R. 9D).Pardon "unconditionally releases the person from punishment and forgives guilt." Id. Restores firearms rights. Id. at 4A. May be used as predicate. ROR restores vote and other basic civil rights. (R. 4F). Regular but sparing: The pardon process is regular but full pardons have been infrequent in recent years. About 300-400 grants to restore civil rights are made each year. Sealing and expungement for misdemeanors and minor felonies.Fla. Stat. ch. 943.0585(1)(b)(1); 943.0585. Deferred adjudication. Fla. Stat. ch. 948.01(2).
GAIndependent board appointed by governor exercises pardon power. Ga. Const. art. IV, § 2, para. II. Board must report annually to legislature, the Attorney General and the Governor. Ga. Code Ann. § 42-9-19.Paper review, no public hearing. Board decides cases by majority vote, and in a written opinion. Ga. Code Ann. §§ 42-9-42(a) and (b); 42-9-43.5 years following discharge; out-of state offenses eligible for restoration of rights but not pardon. Drug and violent offenses ineligible to apply by Board policy.Relieves all legal disabilities except return to public office. No sealing, and may be used as predicate. Ga. Code Ann. § 42-9-54; Morris v. Hartsfield, 197 S.E. 251 (Ga. 1938).Frequent and Regular: Between 300-400 pardons w/o gun rights; 100 pardons w/ gun rights, several hundred "restoration of rights"(approx. 35% of applicants); immigration pardons.Deferred adjudication and 'exoneration' for first offenders. Ga. Code. Ann. § 42-8-60 et seq.
HIGovernor decides, parole board may be consulted. Haw. Const., art. V, § 5; Haw. Rev. Stat. § 353-72.No public hearing; parole boards interviews applicant, recommends to AG's office, which conducts independent investigation and makes recommendation to governor. Process takes 8 months. Haw. Rev. Stat. § 353-72.No eligibility requirements.A pardon will state that the person has been rehabilitated, relieves legal disabilities and prohibitions. No expungement, may be used as predicate. Haw. Rev. Stat. §§ 353-62, 353-72.Infrequent: No information on any pardons granted by Governor Ige since he took office in 2014. Governor Abercrombie issued 33 pardons, fewer than his predecessors. Governor Lingle granted 132 pardons in 8 yrs., 55 in her last year (2010). About 50 applications filed per year.Deferred adjudication and expungement; state FEP laws includes conviction. Haw. Rev. Stat. §§ 853-1; 831-3.
IDIndependent board appointed by governor decides all but violent and drug offenses, which must be approved by governor. Idaho Const. art. IV, § 7; Idaho Code Ann. §§ 20-210, 20-240.Public hearing at regular intervals; reasons for each action must be filed with Secretary of State. Idaho Code §§ 20-210, 20-240; see IDAPA § 50.01.01.Three years for non-violent offenses, five years for violent. Idaho Code § 18-310(3).Relieves certain legal disabilities, including firearms. Idaho Code § 18-310. Does not expunge.Frequent and Regular: In recent years 20-30 grants annually, from 30-60% of applications filed.Deferred adjudication but no expungement; ex. for some juvenile offenses.Idaho Code § 19-2601 et seq.
ILGovernor decides, although "the manner of applying therefore may be regulated by law." Ill. Const. art. V, § 12. Prisoner Review Board authorized to provide advice to governor. 730 Ill. Comp. Stat, Ann. 5/3-3-1(a)(3).Public hearings at regular intervals before the Prisoner Review Board, which makes confidential recommendations to Governor. 730 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/3-3-1 et seq.No eligibility requirements.Relieves legal disabilities; expungement only if authorized by the grant. People v. Glisson,
358 N.E.2d 35 (Ill. App. Ct. 1976).
Frequent and regular: Governor Pritzker issued 21 regular pardons during his first year in office (1/2019-12/2019), and used his pardon power to authorize expungement of more than 11,000 marijuana possession convictions pursuant to recommendations from the Prisoner Review Board.   
When he left office after four years in January 2019, Governor Bruce Rauner had granted 110 pardons and denied more than 2500 applications, a less generous pardoning policy than his predecessor Pat Quinn, but one that eliminated a backlog dating back to Governor Blagojevich's tenure.  In Quinn’s nearly six years in office starting in April 2009, he granted 1,789 pardons, a 37 % approval rate. Board hears 800 applications each year.
Judicial certificates; sealing for most convictions after three-year waiting period. 730 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/5-5.5-5 et seq.; 20 Ill. Comp. Stat. 2630/5 et seq.
INGovernor decides, "subject to such regulations as may be provided by law." Ind. Const. art. 5, § 17. Parole board makes advisory recommendations to governor. Ind. Const. art. 5, § 17; Ind. Code §§ 11-9-2-1 to 11-9-2-3. Governor reports to legislature. Ind. Const. art. 5, § 17.Public hearing; parole board notifies victim, court, and DA; conducts investigation and holds hearing at which petitioner and other interested parties are may present their position.Ind. Code § 11-9 et. seq.Recent governors have required a 5-year waiting period and evidence of rehabilitation. 15 years for firearms restoration.Pardon wipes out both the punishment and the guilt, basis for expungement. Kelley v. State, 185 N.E. 453 (Ind. 1933). See also State v. Bergman, 558 N.E.2d 1111 (Ind. Ct. App. 1990); Ind. Code § 35-47-2-20(a); § 11-9-2-4.Infrequent: Governor Eric Holcomb issued six pardons in his first year in office (2017), including one to a man whose conviction was found to be wrongful by the courts, but as of November 2019 had issued no more. Mike Pence granted his only three pardons in January 2015. Governor Mitch Daniels (2005-2013) granted 62 pardons during his eight years in office, generally pursuant to favorable Board recommendations. Expungement for most offenses; sealing for misdemeanors, Class D felonies, and nonconviction records. Ind. Code § 35-38-9; § 10-13-3-27(a).
IAGovernor decides "subject to such regulations as may be provided by law." Iowa Const. art. IV, § 16. Parole board authorized to provide advice. Iowa Code §§ 914.1-914.7. Governor reports to legislature on pardons issued and reasons. Iowa Const. art. IV, § 16.Paper review, no public hearing for pardon and restoration of rights. Separate firearms restoration procedure. Iowa Code § 914 et seq.10 years for pardon, 5 years for firearms; no waiting period for restoration of rights. Out-of-state and federal eligible for ROR. Iowa Code § 914.2.Pardon relieves all legal disabilities (incl. public employment disabilities). See Slater v. Olson, 299 N.W. 879 (Iowa 1941). Restoration of rights restores right to vote and hold public office, may also restore firearms rights. Does not seal or expunge. Uneven, varies with administration: Average of 35 full pardons each year between 2005 and 2011 (fewer since 2009 and in recent years increasingly rare), with another 30-60 grants to restore civil rights and firearms privilegesRestoration of gun rights by governor; Deferred adjudication and expungement for some first offenders.Iowa Code §§ 907.3; 914.7
KSGovernor decides, subject to regulations and restrictions by law. Kan. Const. art. I, § 7. The governor required to seek the advice of the prisoner review board, though not bound to follow it, Kan. Stat. Ann. § 22-3701(4). Reports to legislature on each pardon application but need not give reasons. Kan. Stat. Ann. § 22-3703.Paper review. Applicant must publish a copy of the application in a newspaper in county of conviction at least 30 days before grant or pardon is void. Applicant must also provide notice of application to DA, judge and victim. Kan. Stat. Ann. § 22-3701 et seq.No eligibility requirements, except that only Kansas state convictions are eligible to be pardoned or commuted. Kan. Stat. Ann. § 22-3701.Pardon removes disabilities imposed under state law, but does not expunge conviction or lift bar to service as a law enforcement officer.Cf.Kan. Att'y Gen. Op. No. 85-165 (1985). May be used as predicate.Rare: Pardons very rare, primarily for miscarriage of justiceExpungement for many felony offenses. Kan. Stat. Ann. § 21-4619 et seq.
KYGovernor decides, parole board may be consulted. Ky. Const. § 77. Governor may also restore rights of citizenship, office. Id. §§ 145, 150. Governor reports to legislature reasons for each grant. Id. § 77.No public hearing. Pardon applications sent directly to the governor with reasons for seeking relief and letters of recommendation. Simplified ROR process administered by DOC. Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 439 et seq.For restoration of rights, expiration of sentence with no pending charges. For pardon 7-year waiting period. Federal and out-of-state offenders eligible for restoration of rights.Arnett v. Stumbo, 153 S.W.2d 889 (1941).Restoration of citizenship restores a person's right to vote and eligibility for jury service. A full pardon relieves additional legal disabilities. May be used as predicate. Ky. Const. § 145(1); Leonard v. Corrections Cabinet, 828 S.W.2d 668 (Ky. Ct. App. 1992)Uneven: Pardons during term have been rare. Governor Bevin issued hundreds of pardons at the end of his term in December 2019. Governor A, Beshear issued executive order restoring civil rights to thousands at the beginning of his term. Misdemeanor expungement. Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 431.078.
LA"Upon favorable recommendation of the Board of Pardons," the Governor may pardon "those convicted of offenses against the state."La. Const. art. IV, § 5(E)(1); La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 15:572(A).Regular public hearings, approval by four of five board members; DA and victim notified by board, and by applicant through publication of application in newspaper. La. Const. art. IV, § 5(E)(2); La. Rev. Stat. Ann. 15:572.1.Completion of sentence, plus payment of costs. La. Const. art. IV, § 5(E)(1); La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 15:572(A); see Op. La. Att'y Gen. No. 04-0080 (2005).Full pardon restores to "status of innocence," conviction cannot be used to enhance punishment. State v. Riser, 30,201 (La. App. 2 Cir. 12/12/97). First Offender Pardon automatically restores rights after completion of sentence, is basis for expungement. Frequent and regular under incumbent John Bel Edwards, who pardoned 167 in his first term and also commuted some sentences. His predecessor Bobby Jindal pardoned only 83 in 8 years, and left unacted on hundreds of recommendations from the Board. Previous governors granted 331 (in 4 years) and 476 (in 8 years). Edwin Edwards granted over 3,000 in 16 years.Deferred adjudication and expungement. La. Const. art. IV, § 5(E)(1); La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 15:572(B)(1).
MEGovernor decides, subject to regulation "relative to the manner of applying." Non-statutory advisory scheme. Me. Const. art. V, pt. 1, § 11.Public hearings at regular intervals; board makes confidential recommendations to governor. Parole board conducts investigation. Applicant notifies DA, publishes notice of hearing in a newspaper 4 weeks beforehand. Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 34-A, § 5210(4); tit. 15, § 2161.5 years following completion of sentence.Relieves legal disabilities. Me. Rev. Stat. Ann.
tit. 16, §§ 611-622.
Infrequent/uneven: As of April 2013, Gov. Lepage had granted only about 30 pardons since taking office in 2011 . Between 2002 and 2011, Governor Baldacci granted 131 pardons, 51 in his final year. In past about 50 hearings each year, 25% result in pardon.No other relief provided
MDGovernor decides, parole board may be consulted. Md. Const. art. II, § 20; Md. Code Ann., Correctional Services § 7-206(3)(ii). Constitution requires governor to publish notice of intention to grant, and to report grants to legislature with reasons. Md. Const. art. II, § 20.Paper review by Parole Commission, whose recommendations to the governor are not binding.Md. Code Ann. § 7-206(3)(ii).Felony convictions must have 10 crime-free years to be eligible (seven if Parole Commission waiver granted); misdemeanants must have 5 crime-free years. 20-year wait for crimes of violence and drugs (or 15 if waiver granted).Pardon lifts all disabilities and penalties imposed. Firearms privileges must be specifically restored in pardon document. Non-violent first offenders entitled to expungement. Infrequent/Uneven: As of March 2020, Governor Hogan had granted no pardons in five years in office. Governor O'Malley granted about 150 pardons in his eight years in office, Ehrlich (2003-2007) granted 228 pardons out of a total of 439 applications.Probation before judgment and expungement.Md. Code Ann., Crim. Proc. § 6-220(b)(1); § 10-105(a)(8).
MAGovernor may not act without affirmative recommendation of Governor's Council. Mass. Const. pt. 2, ch. II, sec. I, art. VIII. Governor must report to legislature annually with a list of pardons granted, but not required to give reasons. Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 127, § 152 (2011).Petitions filed with Parole Board, which recommends to Governor and Council. Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 127, § 152 (2011). Public hearing, referral to AG, DA, court, notice to victim. 120 Mass. Code Regs. 902.02-.12 (2011). Public report to governor and Council. Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 127, § 154 (2011).15 years after conviction or release from prison for felonies, 10 years for misdemeanors. Governor's Executive Clemency Guidelines (February 2, 2020) at 2.The governor, upon granting a pardon, orders the records of a state conviction sealed; thereafter, the records of the conviction may not be accessed by the public, and existence may be denied. Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 127, § 152 (2011).May be used as predicate.Rare: Pardons infrequent since early 1990s, only four since 2002 (by Governor Patrick at the end of his term). Governor Baker has issued none in five years. Sealing available for felonies after 5 years, misdemeanors after 10. Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 276, § 100A.
MIGovernor decides, parole board must be consulted but advice not binding.Mich. Const. Art. 5, § 14; Mich. Comp. Laws §§ 791.243, 791.244. Mustinform the legislature annually of pardons and reasons. Const. Art. 5, § 14.All applications referred to the board; if board decides to hold hearing, relevant officials must be notified. Recommendation of the board is a matter of public record. Mich. Comp. Laws § 791.244. The board “will not process [a pardon application] where expungement is available to the petitioner as an appropriate remedy."No eligibility criteriaPardon "releases the punishment and blots out of existence the guilt, so that in the eye of the law the offender is as innocent as if he had never committed the offense." People v. Van Heck, 651 N.W.2d 174, 179 (Mich. App. 2002).Infrequent/uneven: Pardons rare prior to 2006 (only 34 pardons between 1969 and 2006). Gov. Granholm granted 20 pardons, 100 commutations; Rick Snyder granted Governor Rick Snyder granted a total of 72 pardons during his two terms (2011-2019), out of a total of more than 4000 applications reviewed by his administration. First offender set-aside; probation before judgment for drug offenders. Mich. Comp. Laws § 780.621l; § 333.7411.
MNGovernor and high officials (attorney general, chief justice) act as board exercising power. Minn. Const. art. V, § 7. Board required to report to legislature by February 15 each year. Minn. Stat. § 638.075.
Commissioner of corrections screens applications, decides which cases should be heard by board. Minn. Stat. § 638.07. Public hearing, notice to officials and victim, decision announced at conclusion of hearing.
For "pardon extraordinary," 5 crime-free years from final discharge for nonviolent crimes, or 10 crime-free years from final discharge for "violent" offenses (which includes drug felonies). Minn. Stat. §638.02.A "pardon extraordinary" restores all rights, including firearms rights, and has "the effect of setting aside and nullifying the conviction," so that it need not be disclosed. Minn. Stat. § 638.02. Does not seal or expunge the record. Regular but sparing; 10-20 pardons each year, about one third of those whose cases are heard. Only those deemed eligible are permitted to file an application, and waivers of the eligibility waiting period are rarely granted. Common law and (narrow) statutory expungement. Minn. Stat. § 609A.
MSGovernor decides, parole board may be consulted. Miss. Const. art. 5, § 124. Miss. Code Ann. § 47-7-5(3).Applicants publish notice 30 days before applying, stating reasons. Miss. Const. art. 5, § 124. Facially meritorious cases sent to the parole board, which investigates and holds hearing. Board reports to Governor and legislature annually. Miss. Code Ann. § 47-7-15.Seven years since completion of sentence by governor's office policy.Pardon restores civil rights and removes employment disabilities, gun restrictions, obligation to register. No expungement.Infrequent/uneven. No regular process. Almost 200 post-sentence pardons at end of Barbour's term gave rise to controversy, and his successor issued no pardons throughout his two terms.First misdemeanor and a few minor felony convictions may be expunged. Miss. Code Ann. § 99-19-71.
MOGovernor grants reprieves and pardons, subject to rules and regulations prescribed for "the manner of applying." Mo. Const. art. IV, § 7. Parole board must be consulted, but advice not binding. Mo. Rev. Stat. § 217.800.2.Applications referred to board for investigation and recommendation. See Mo. Rev. Stat. § 217.800.2. No provision for public hearing. Board meetings on clemency matters may be closed to public. Mo. Rev. Stat. § 217.670.5.If still in jail, apply at any time. If out, eligible three years from discharge.Pardon "obliterates" conviction, relieves of all obligations associated with the conviction (including obligation to register as sex offender). No predicate effect. No expungement.Infrequent/uneven:
Governor Nixon granted 110 pardons during his eight years in office (2009-2017), but prior to that very few in recent years. Number of applications has increased dramatically, in part because of extension of firearms restrictions to long guns in 2008.
Bad check convictions, some public order misdemeanors, andfirst-time minor alcohol offenses may be expunged. Mo. Rev. Stat. §§ 610.140, § 577.054(1). Sealing of some cases sentenced to probation. § 311.326.
MTGovernor may grant pardons and commutations, and must consult with board of pardons and paroles, but since March 2015 he may grant clemency even if board recommends denial. Mont. Const. art. VI, § 12; Mont. Code Ann. §§ 46-23-104(4), 46-23-301(3)(b). Governor must report grants to legislature including reasons. § 46-23-316.Board may hold a hearing in meritorious cases where all sides are heard and a record made, but is not required to do so. Governor may ask the Board to hold a hearing if it has declined to do so. See Mont. Code. Ann. § 46-23-301(3)(b).No eligibility criteria.Pardon removes "all legal consequences" of conviction, including licensing bars, but is not grounds for expungement.Infrequent: Between 2005 and present, only 25 individuals pardoned.Deferred adjudication and expungement. Mont. Code. Ann. § 46-18-201.
NEGovernor and high officials (secretary of state and attorney general) act as board of pardon which exercises power. Neb. Const. art. IV, § 13. Governor chairs board.Public hearings held quarterly, victims notified. No reasons given. Board of Parole may advise the Board of Pardon "on the merits of any application . . . but such advice shall not be binding on them." Neb. Const. art. IV, § 13. Process takes about one year. Note: Board processes appear to have come to a virtual standstill in 2018 after the retirement of a long-time staffer, but regular hearings may resume in 2020. Informal rule of 10 years following completion of sentence for felonies, 3 years for misdemeanors.A pardon restores civil rights, certain occupational and professional licenses, and firearms rights (if expressly granted). Neb. Rev. Stat. § 83-1,130. As of 2018, pardoned conviction may be sealed. Frequent and Regular: Between 50 and 100 pardons granted each year between 2002 and 2017, plus reprieves from driver's license revocations. About 70% of grantees also regained firearms privileges. A high percentage of applications whose cases are heard are pardoned. Set-aside for probationers, no sealing.
NVGovernor and high officials (justices of state supreme court, and attorney general) act as board exercising power. Nev. Const. art. 5, § 14. Governor must report to the legislature at the beginning of each session every clemency action (no reasons necessary). Nev. Const. art. 5, § 13.Public hearings at regular intervals, which applicant must attend, except that non-violent first offenders may be considered on a paper record. County attorney, court and victim notified 30 days before hearing. Decision by majority (must include governor). One-year process. Nev. Rev. Stat. §§ 213.010, 213.020.Variable, between five and twelve years from release from prison or discharge from parole. Waivable with consent of a board member. Nev. Admin. Code § 213.065.Removes all disabilities, including gun disabilities and licensing bars, but does not "erase conviction" and may serve as predicate. Nev. Rev. Stat. § 213.090.Frequent and Regular: Between 25 and 50 grants each year since 2013, more than half of those those that apply. Sealing for most convictions after eligibility period of 7-15 years.
NHGovernor acts upon the advice of the Executive Council. N.H. Const. pt. 2, art. 52. Governor traditionally will not act without majority recommendation from Council.Notice to state's attorney. N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 4.21. Hearing at direction of Governor. N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 4.28.Persons eligible for "annulment" under N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 651:5 will generally not be considered for a pardon.A pardon eliminates all consequences of conviction, but it does not expunge record. Doe v. State, 328 A.2d 784 (N.H. 1974).Rare: The Attorney General's office receives about 25 applications for clemency per year, but only two pardons and two sentence commutations since 1996.Annulment available for most felony convictions. N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 651:5.
NJGovernor decides. N.J. Const. art. V, § 2, ¶ 1. Governor must report annually to the legislature the particulars of each grant, with the reasons. N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2A:167-3.1.The Governor may refer applications for pardon to the Parole Board for recommendation. N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2A:167-7, but the recommendation does not bind Governor.No eligibility criteria.Restores rights and makes eligible for expungement. In the Matter of the Petition of L.B., 848 A.2d 899, 900 (N.J. Super. 2004).Infrequent: Recent governors have granted relatively few pardons, and the process has been irregular. First offender set-aside. N.J. Stat. Ann. §§ 2C: 52-1?32.
NMGovernor decides ("[s]ubject to such regulations as may be prescribed by law"). N.M. Const. art. V, § 6. Parole board may be consulted. N.M. Stat. Ann. § 31-21-17.Governor may send application to parole board for investigation. N.M. Stat. Ann. § 31-21-17. Board seeks recommendation from attorney general, judge, prosecuting attorney, and/or the corrections secretary. The victim must be notified.Completion of sentence (by statute). Gov. guidelines require lengthy waiting periods depending on offense; no first degree felonies, DV or sex offenses, or multiple convictions. Restores rights of citizenship and relieves other legal disabilities under state law, but does not expunge records, or preclude use of conviction as predicate offense and to enhance subsequent sentence.Infrequent: Relatively infrequent (Gov. Grisham had issued no pardons as of March 2020, and Gov. Martinez issued only a handful in eight years. Gov. Richardson issued 74 pardons in 8 years).Expungement for first offender drug possession; deferred adjudication but conviction remains on record. N.M. Stat. Ann § 30-31-28.
NYGovernor decides, subject to regulation in "the manner of applying for pardons." N.Y. Const. art. IV, § 4.Governor must report annually to legislature on pardons but not his reasons for granting them. Id.Board of Parole must advise the governor on clemency cases if requested. N.Y. Exec. Law § 259-c (8). Absent exceptional or compelling circumstances, a pardon will not be considered if there is an adequate administrative remedy available.


Special process for misdemeanor/non-violent felony committed at age 16 or 17. Grant is recommended if certain screening requirements are met (including 10 crime-free years), regardless of need or availability of administrative relief.
No eligibility criteriaA pardon addresses unusual circumstances when adequate relief cannot be obtained by certificate; effect to "exempt from further punishment." May serve as predicate.Uneven: Governor Andrew Cuomo has exercised his pardon power in several ways to benefit specific classes of individuals: non-citizens facing deportation or other immigration-related restrictions, parolees ineligible to vote, and individuals prosecuted as adults when teenagers. Gov. Paterson granted 33 immigration pardons in 2010, and a handful of others.Certificates of relief from disabilities and certificates of good conduct. Sealing of convictions after 10 years.
NCGovernor's power unlimited, subject only to regulation in the manner of applying. N.C. Const. art. III, § 5(6). Post Release Supervision and Parole Commission has authority to assist the Governor in exercising his power. N.C. Gen. Stat. § 143B-720(a).Applications must be submitted to the governor in writing, with statement of reasons. Governor's office of executive clemency (OEC) processes requests, oversees investigations by Parole Commission, and prepares reports. Victim may present a written statement. N.C. Gen. Stat. § 15A-838. DA must also be notified.General waiting period of 5 years after completion of sentence, per executive policy.3 types of pardon: pardon of forgiveness (useful in seeking employment); pardon of innocence; and unconditional pardon ("granted primarily to restore an individual's right to own or possess a firearm").Rare: Pardons in recent years have been rare - only six pardons since 2001, all granted for innocence. Pardon applications average about 150 annually.Minor nonviolent felonies and misdemeanors eligible for expungement after 15 years, N.C. Gen Stat. § 15A-145.5. Judicial certificates are also available. ,
NDGovernor decides, N.D. Const. art. V, § 7, and may appoint a "pardon advisory board," consisting of the state attorney general, two members of the parole board, and two citizens. N.D. Cent. Code § 12-55.1-02.No public hearing; board meets twice a year, applications must be filed 90 days in advance; DA notified.Under Pardon Advisory Board rules, an applicant “must have encountered a significant problem with the consequences of the conviction or sentence (e.g. inability to obtain or maintain licensures or certifications necessary for employment)” or demonstrate some other “compelling need for relief as a result of unusual circumstances.”  In addition, “persons prosecuted for and convicted of possession of marijuana, ingestion of marijuana, and possession of marijuana paraphernalia who have not had any convictions in the past 5 years may submit a Summary Pardon Application.” Relieves collateral penalties, but no expungement; may serve as predicate. N.D. Cent. Code § 12-55.1-01.Infrequent: The Board reviews about 50 pardon applications each year, but the governors have pardoned very few individuals in the past 15 years. Beginning in January 2020 applications for marijuana pardons are being fast-tracked for favorable consideration. Deferred sentencing; reduction of minor felony offenses to misdemeanors. N.D. Cent Code § 12.1-32-07.
OHGovernor decides; must consult with parole board which investigates and advises on each case, but advice is not binding. Gov. must report to legislature details of each commutation and pardon granted, and reasons for each. Ohio Const. art. III, § 11; Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 2967.07.Application to Parole Board, which conducts investigation. Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 2967.07. Prior notice to court, prosecutor, victim. Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 2967.12. Meritorious cases may be granted a hearing, and a recommendation made to governor.Eligibility at any time.Pardon forgives the conviction but does not entitle recipient to have court records sealed. State v. Radcliff.Regular but sparing under Gov. Kasich, but Gov. DeWine established Expedited Pardon Project in December 2019 which may result on more regular grants. Gov. Strickland granted 290 pardons in four years, mostly to minor non-violent offenses.First offender sealing.
OKGovernor decides, may not act without affirmative recommendation of board of pardons and parole. Okla. Const. art. VI, § 10. The governor must report to the legislature on each grant at regular session, though not required to give reasons. Id.Public hearings at regular intervals, but applicant generally does not appear; favorable recommendations announced publicly and sent to governor; no reasons given. Process generally takes about six months.Following completion of sentence or 5 years under supervision; misdemeanants eligible.Relieves legal disabilities, including firearms for non-violent crimes. Okla. Stat. tit. 21, § 1283A. Grounds for expungement. Okla. Stat. tit. 22, § 18.Frequent and Regular: More than 100 pardon grants annually (80% of those that apply).Judicial sealing for first offender misdemeanants after 10 years. Okla. Stat. tit. 22, § 18.
ORGovernor decides with no provision for advice. Or. Const. art. V, § 14. Governor must report to the legislature each grant of clemency, including the reasons for the grant.Or. Rev. Stat. § 144.660.Applications filed with governor's office, copy to DA and correctional officials; review by governor's legal staff. By statute, governor may not act for 30 days after receipt of application. Or. Rev. Stat. § 144.650(4).Generally governor will not consider misdemeanors and minor felonies, for which set-aside is available.Relieves legal disabilities. As of 2019, seals the record of conviction. Infrequent: The governor of Oregon has issued few pardons in recent years. Pardons in Oregon have been rare in recent years. As of July 1, 2018, Governor Kate Brown had issued only four pardons and one sentence commutation since taking office in February 2015, though her office has reportedly considered several hundred applications. Governor Kitzhaber granted one reprieve and no pardons during his third (1995-2003) and fourth (2011 – Feb. 2015) terms.
Between 2005 and January 2011, Gov. Kulongoski granted 20 pardons out of several hundred applications.
Set-aside for misdemeanor and minor felonies. Or. Rev. Stat. § 137.225.
PAGovernor decides, may not act without affirmative recommendation of pardon board chaired by lieutenant governor. Pa. Const. art. IV, § 9(a).Public hearings at regular intervals; notice published prior to hearing. 37 Pa. Cons. Stat. 81.233. Favorable recommendations are announced publicly and sent to governor; no reasons given. 37 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 81.301.No eligibility requirements.Relieves all legal disabilities, including employment and licensing bars; provides grounds for expungement. Commonwealth v. C.S., 534 A.2d 1053 (Pa. 1987),Frequent and Regular: Of 500-600 applications, Board recommends about 150 favorably each year, most of which are granted; 20% to misdemeanors and summary offenses.Expungement for "violations"; law prohibits discrimination in employment and licensing. 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 9124.
PRGovernor decides. P.R. Const. art. IV, § 4. Parole Board may make non-binding recommendations.Process administered by Parole Board. Corrections Department makes recommendation to the Parole Board, which in turn makes recommendation to the governor. There is no hearing and the process usually takes about one year.No formal eligibility restrictions, but informal policy of recent governors has imposed a five-year waiting period following completion of sentence. A grant of full pardon “erases forever” a conviction. 1960 P.R. Op. Sec’y Justice No. 33. The pardon document by its terms “eliminates” the conviction from police and court records. Rare: Frequency of pardon grants has decreased since expansion of expungement law in 2005.Broad expungement authority for all offenses, after waiting period of six months to 5 years. P.R. Laws Ann. tit. 34, §§ 1725a-1 et seq.
RIGovernor pardons "by and with the advice and consent of the senate." R.I. Const. art. IX, § 13.No process specified.No requirements.Restores right to hold public office and lifts occupational and licensing bars.Rare: No pardon issued to a living person in many years. First offender expungement after 10 yrs for felonies, 5 for misdemeanors. R.I. Gen. Laws § 12-1.3-3.
SCIndependent board appointed by governor exercises pardon power except in capital cases (where governor retains power). S. C. Const. art. IV, § 14; S.C. Code Ann. § 24-21-920.Board required to hold hearings at least four times a year, and in recent years every two months, at which it is required to allow the applicant to appear.Following completion for sentence, or after 5 years under supervision, payment of restitution in full; state offenders only. S.C. Code Ann. § 24-21-950.Erases legal effect of conviction, including obligation to register and use as predicate. S.C. Code Ann. §§ 24-21-990, 1000. Does not expunge, and conviction must be reported on applications.Frequent and Regular:Board issues 300-400 grants per year, hearing about 80-85 cases every two months; grants 60-65% of applicants. Few misdemeanants.Various expungement authorities for minor offenses.
SDGovernor decides, S.D. Const. Article IV, § 3. Board of Pardons and Paroles must recommend pardon in order to obtain sealing relief. S.D. Codified Laws § 24-14-11.Public hearings at regular intervals, recommendations sent to governor. Applicant must notify DA and sentencing judge, and must publish notice of application in a newspaper once a week for three weeks. Typically, six months to process a case. S.D. Codified Laws §§ 24-14-3, 4. Expedited procedure for misdemeanants implemented in 2014.No eligibility period except 5-year waiting period after release for first offenders to apply for "exceptional pardon." S.D. Codified Laws § 24-14-8. Expedited process for misdemeanants requires waiting period of 5 and 10 years.Persons released from all disabilities, including firearms if specified. Record sealed and conviction denied, unless pardon was issued by governor alone. S.D. Codified Laws § 24-14-11. No predicate effect.Frequent and Regular:
Between 60 and 70 applications filed annually, about 60% recommended by Board to the governor, who grants most of those recommended.
Deferred adjudication and judicial sealing for first offenders
TNGovernor has the power to pardon. Tenn. Const. art. III, § 6. Governor advised by the parole board. Tenn. Code Ann. § 40-28-104. Must report grants and reasons to legislature "when requested."
Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 40-27-101, 107.
Public hearing and notice to prosecutor is required. Board must send names of those it is recommending and those it is not to legislative committees. Governor must notify AG and DA beforegrant is made public; they notify victim. Tenn. Code Ann. § 40-27-110.Completion of sentence; additional period of good conduct and demonstration of rehabilitation and need.Pardon has limited legal effect, and does not restore civil or other rights, for which one must go to court. Tenn. Code. Ann. § 40-29-105(c). May serve as grounds for expungement, and thus restoration of firearms rights. See Tenn. Code Ann. § 40-32-101(h)Uneven: In recent years, the annual reports of the Board of Parole have included no information about pardon grants, but news reports indicated that Governor Haslam (2011 to 2019) granted a total of 35 pardons and a handful of commutations. From 2003 to January 2011, Governor Phil Bredesen granted 22 pardons in cases “collected over his eight years in office.” Expungement of certain less serious non-violent offenses after 5 yrs. Judicial restoration of rights.
TXGovernor decides, may not act without affirmative recommendation of Board of Pardons and Paroles. Tex. Const. art. IV, § 11(b).No public hearing, informal review process.Upon completion of sentence, including misdemeanants. Tex. Admin. Cod. §§ 143.2, 143.10. First offender restoration to federal and foreign offenders. Tex. Admin. Code § 143.7.Restores civil rights, and removes barriers "to some, but not all, types of employment and professional licensing." Basis for expungement. Predicate effect.Regular but sparing: Eight to ten pardons annually most years since 2001, and 1/3 of those recommended. Board considers 200 applications annually.Expungement of pardoned convictions; deferred adjudication and nondisclosure.
UTIndependent board appointed by the governor. Utah Const. art. VII, § 12; Utah Code Ann. § 77-27-5(1).Public hearing at regular intervals, notice to DA and victim, majority vote, with reasons given. Utah Code Ann. § 77-27-5(2).Five years after expiration of sentence; offenses for which expungement not available. Utah Admin Code r. 671-315.Restores civil rights.Infrequent: Board receives only three to five requests for pardon a year, and only about 10 pardons have been granted in the past decade (availability of expungement makes less necessary).Expungement for many offenses.
VTGovernor decides, parole board may be consulted. Vt. Const. ch. II, § 20.No hearing; parole board investigates and recommends. Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 28, § 453.Generally 10 years, must show rehabilitation and employment-related need, benefit to society.Restores rights, relieves disabilities, including firearms.Infrequent: As of March 15, 2020, Governor Phil Scott had issued no pardons in his first three years in office.  Until the very end of his term, Governor Peter Shumlin issued only six pardons, fewer than two a year, and added to that total only with a batch of marijuana possession pardons. In his nearly 8 years in office (2003-2011), Governor Douglas granted thirteen pardons, fewer than two a year.Deferred adjudication and expungement.
VAGovernor decides, parole board may be consulted. Va. Const. art. V, § 12. Constitution also requires governor to make annual report to the legislature setting forth "the particulars of every case" of pardon or commutation granted, with reasons. Id.No hearing, paper review by parole board. Restoration of rights applications processed in 60-days by Secretary of the Commonwealth.3-yr eligibility waiting period for restoration of rights after violent crime or serious crime; Immediate and automatic for non-violent crime, if eligible; ROR available for those convicted in Virginia, either in state or federal court. Simple pardon available after 5 years."Simple" pardon does not expunge the record, but helps with employment, education, and self-esteem.No expungement, has predicate effect.Frequent and regular: Pardons in the past 10 years have been issued frequently and the process has become regular and productive. Since 2016
rights restoration has been automatic upon a determination of eligibility and accomplished through issuance of periodic executive orders.
Deferred adjudication but no expungement; judicial restoration of firearms.
VIGovernor decides. V.I. Organic Act of 1954, § 11.No process specified.No requirements.Relieves bar to serving on government board or commission. No information available.Expungement available for misdemeanors, deferred adjudication, and youthful offenses.
WAGovernor decides "under such regulations and restrictions as may be prescribed by law." Wash. Const. art. III, §§ 9. Clemency board may be consulted. Wash. Rev. Code §§ 9.94A.885 (1), 10.01.120. Governor reports to legislature with reasons. Wash. Const. art. III, § 11.Public hearing, DA and victims must be notified. Wash. Rev. Code § 9.94A.885 (3).NoneVacates conviction, relieves all legal disabilities; conviction need not be reported, no predicate effect. Wash. Rev. Code § 994A.030 (11)(b).Regular but sparing: About 35 petitions each year, 8-10 of which go to hearing. As of March 2020, Governor Inslee had granted 48 pardons since taking office in 2013, distributed fairly evenly over the years. acting favorably on about half the cases received from the Board with an affirmative recommendation.  Inslee also pardoned a number of people convicted of marijuana possession offenses no longer criminal under state law Board. Gov. Gregoire (2003-2011) granted 27 pardons, two conditional, and two to avoid deportation.Judicial vacatur for most convictions; separate firearms restoration procedure.
WVGovernor decides, may seek advice from parole board. W. Va. Const. art. 7, § 11; W. Va. Code § 5-1-16. Governor reports facts of grants with reasons. W. Va. Const. art. 7, § 11; W. Va. Code § 5-1-16.No public hearing; board must notify DA and judge 10 days before making recommendation to governor. As a matter of policy, governor always seeks recommendation from board.NoneLifts most legal barriers, and restores firearms rights. May be given predicate effect.Rare: Governor receives from 50-100 applications each year, but pardon grants are rare (only 1 in past 10 years). Expungements for less serious convictions.
WIGovernor decides under a non-statutory pardon advisory board. Wis. Const. art. V, § 6. Governor must communicate annually with legislature each case of clemency and the reasons. Wis. Const. art. V, § 6.Under past governors, hearings have been held at regular intervals for those applicants that show "a demonstrated need for a pardon." By statute, applicants must publish notice in county paper or on courthouse door, and deliver to DA, judge and victim. Wis. Stat. §§ 304.09?.10.Five-year eligibility waiting period; misdemeanants ineligible unless waiver granted.Relieves legal disabilities and signals rehabilitation, but does not expunge or seal the conviction. May be given predicate effect.Infrequent/uneven: Pardon policy and practice varies depending on the incumbent governor, but the present incumbent has resumed regular pardoning after a 9-year hiatus. Prior to that time, pardoning was frequent. Expungement or sealing of certain adult misdemeanor convictions. Wis. Stat. § 973.015.
WYGovernor decides, subject to legislative controls on the manner of applying. Wyo. Const. art. 4, § 5. Governor must report every two years to legislature on grants, with the reasons for each one. Id.Statutory application process involves review by governor's staff. Process takes 4-6 weeks. Notice to DA three weeks prior to acting, and DA must provide details of offense. Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 7-13-801 et seq.10 years after sentence for pardon, 5 years for restoration of rights. Excludes sex offenses.Relieves legal disabilities but does not expunge. Maybe given predicate effect.Infrequent: The last two governors of Wyoming have granted no pardons. Governor Freudenthal (2003-2011) granted 22 pardons and 28 restorations of rights, approximately 25% of applications filed.Governor also grants restoration of rights upon recommendation of parole board. Federal and state offenders eligible.
FedPresident decides under a non-statutory advisory scheme. U.S. Const. art. II, § 2; 28 CFR Part 1. No reporting requirement, no notice.Informal process described in 28 C.F.R. Part 1 and United States Attorneys Manual. No time limit, and applications may remain pending for years.5 years after sentence or release from confinement. 28 C.F.R. § 1.2. Generally not eligible if on parole. Id.Relieves legal disabilities signifies rehabilitation. Does not expunge, has predicate effect.Sparing and irregular: Only about 10-15 pardons per year over the past twenty years, representing less than 5% of those who apply. Under present incumbent regular process all but abandoned. None

2.  Relative pardoning frequency

Frequent/Regular (17)
regular process; significant % of apps granted
Sparing/Regular (6)
regular process;  small % of apps granted
Infrequent/Uneven (13)
irregular process, depends on governor
Rare
(16)
few or no pardons in 20 years
Alabama
Arkansas
California*
Connecticut
Delaware
Georgia
Idaho
Illinois*
Louisiana*   Nebraska
Nevada
Oklahoma
Pennsylvania
South Carolina
South Dakota Virginia*
Utah
Florida
Iowa
Minnesota
Ohio
Texas
Washington
Federal
Colorado
Hawaii
Indiana
Kentucky
Maine
Maryland
Missouri
New Mexico
New York
Tennessee
Wisconsin
Wyoming
Alaska
Arizona
D.C.
Kansas
Massachusetts
Michigan
Mississippi
Montana
New Hampshire
New Jersey
North Carolina
North Dakota
Oregon
Rhode Island
Vermont
West Virginia

*California makes the “Frequent and Regular” list because of the atypical number of pardons granted by the previous governor Jerry Brown and the regularity of the pardon process, even though only a small percentage of those who apply (via judicial Certificates of Rehabilitation) are granted.  Illinois, Louisiana, Utah and Virginia appear on the list for the first time, in light of the regularity of the process and current frequency of grants.   

3.  Models for pardon administration

Independent Board (6) Shared Power (22)  


 


Permissive Consultation w/ Board (29)  No Statutory Advisory Process (5)
Alabama*±
Connecticut
Georgia±
Idaho*
South Carolina*
Utah
Gov. on Board (4)

Florida±
Minnesota±
Nebraska
Nevada±

Gatekeeper Board (10)

Arizona±
Delaware±
Louisiana
Massachusetts±
New Hampshire
Oklahoma±
Pennsylvania
Rhode Island**
South Dakota***±
Texas

Mandatory Consultation w/ Board (7)

Alaska
Arkansas±
Kansas±
Michigan±
Missouri
Montana±
Ohio±

California****±
Colorado±
Hawaii
Illinois
Indiana±
Iowa±
Kentucky±
Maryland±
Mississippi
New Jersey±
New Mexico
New York±
North Carolina
North Dakota
Tennessee±
Vermont
Virginia±
Washington±
West Virginia±
Wyoming±
D.C.
Federal
Maine
Oregon±
Wisconsin±

* In Alabama and South Carolina, the governor remains responsible for clemency in capital cases, and in Idaho, the governor must approve the board’s decision to pardon certain serious crimes.

**In Rhode Island, the senate must advise and consent to every pardon. 

***In South Dakota, the governor has constitutional authority to pardon without consultation with the board, but sealing is unavailable to a grantee if the statutory procedure requiring board approval is not followed.  The result is that in recent years all pardons have been granted after board approval. 

**** In California, the governor is required to consult with the parole board and seek approval of the state supreme court in recidivist cases only.  

±Governor required to report annually to the legislature, frequently with reasons for each grant

4.  State-by-state information

Federal 

The president’s constitutional authority to pardon is unlimited and considered unreviewable in the courts.  The president has relied historically upon advice from the Department of Justice.  Under justice clemency rules, a person becomes eligible to apply for a pardon five years after imposition of sentence or release from confinement; there is no public hearing and no limit on time for decision.  A pardon relieves legal disabilities and signifies rehabilitation, but it does not expunge or seal the record.  Presidential pardons have been sparing since 1980 and the process irregular under the incumbent president.  (Sentence commutations, the other main form of executive clemency, have also been infrequent under most recent presidents.)

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Alabama

An independent board appointed by the governor exercises pardon power independent of the governor, except in capital cases.  The board must make an annual report to governor. A person is eligible to apply upon completion of sentence or after three years of permanent parole.  The application form is simple (“intended to facilitate application by individuals who lack formal education”) and is filed with the local probation office.  A public hearing is required, with notice to officials and victim, with reasons given if denied.  There is a separate paper procedure for restoration of civil rights, also available to people with federal and out-of-state convictions.  The effect is as specified in grant, but a pardoned conviction is not sealed and serves as a predicate.  Pardons are frequent and the process regular and governed by statute; process takes about one year.  More than 500 full pardons are granted each year, 80% of those who apply, plus many more rights restorations.

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Alaska

The pardon power is vested in the governor, who is advised by an informal executive clemency advisory committee.  Applications are submitted to the parole board whose staff determines eligibility by unstated criteria.  If a person is deemed eligible, the parole board investigates, consults with DA and sentencing court, and prepares a confidential recommendation to the governor.  There is no provision for a hearing.  Pardon sets aside the conviction but does not expunge it; conviction may not serve as a predicate or be the basis of denial of a license, though underlying conduct may be considered. There have been no pardon grants in Alaska since 2006, when the pardon program was suspended by the legislature until January 2018.  Despite the establishment of a rigorous administrative review process at that time, there have been no grants since then.

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Arizona

By statute, the governor’s authority to act depends upon receiving an affirmative recommendation from the board of executive clemency, which must conduct a public hearing and publish its recommendations to the governor with its reasons.  The governor must report pardons, with reasons, to the legislature.  Pardon relieves the legal consequences of conviction, but it does not expunge the record, and a pardoned conviction may be used as a predicate.  Since the 1980s, Arizona governors have granted only a handful of pardons a term.  As pardons have become increasingly rare the Board has heard fewer pardon cases.

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Arkansas

The governor has the constitutional power to pardon but is required by statute to consult the parole board for a non-binding recommendation before making a grant.  The board and governor must each give 30 days’ public notice of intention to recommend or grant, stating their reasons, and the governor is constitutionally required to report to the legislature on all grants.  Pardon relieves legal disabilities (except the right to hold office which is restored only by expungement) and is grounds for automatic sealing in all but cases involving serious violence; a pardoned conviction may not serve as predicate or to enhance a subsequent sentence.  Firearms rights must be expressly restored in the pardon document, and they may also be separately restored by the governor.  Pardons are frequent and the process regular and governed by statute: pardons are issued on a regular monthly basis throughout the year, about 100 each year and about 25% of those who apply.

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California

The governor’s constitutional power to pardon first felony offenders is unlimited, and he is authorized but not required to consult with the parole board.  In cases where an applicant has more than one felony conviction, the constitution provides that a pardon may not issue except upon the affirmative recommendation of four supreme court justices, and in such cases he is by statute required to consult with the parole board.  A judicial certificate of rehabilitation is ordinarily the first step in the pardon process, and the parole board must make a recommendation to the governor within one year of receiving a certificate.  Pardon restores civil rights and removes occupational bars but does not expunge record and may be used as predicate.  A pardon must specifically restore firearms rights.  Under the most recent governors, a regular pardoning practice has been reestablished after a decade of neglect, but no data is available on the grant rate (measured by number of certificates received).

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Colorado

The governor’s constitutional power is subject to regulation in the manner of applying, and the governor must report all grants to the legislature each year, with reasons for each.  Before acting favorably on an application, the governor must seek the views of the district attorney, sentencing judge, and prosecuting attorney.  The department of corrections is informally responsible for administering the pardon power, and the governor is advised by a non-statutory 7-member board of appointees, including corrections and law enforcement officials.  Applications are generally not accepted until 10 years after completion of sentence, and there is no hearing.  Pardon restores civil and firearms rights, signals rehabilitation and good character, but does not authorize sealing.  Until the final 18 months of Gov. Hickenlooper’s term (17-18), the pardon power had not been functioning in Colorado in a meaningful fashion for many years, and the current governor has reconstituted the pardon board.

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Connecticut

Pardons are issued pursuant to a formal process by an independent board appointed by governor.  The board also issues lesser relief styled a “provisional pardon” or “certificate of rehabilitation.”  A person is eligible to apply for pardon five years after completion of sentence for felonies, after three years for misdemeanors.  A public hearing is required for more serious offenses, but since 2015 an expedited process has dispensed with the requirement of a hearing for about 2/3 of those that apply and are eligible.  A pardon relieves all legal disabilities, and it is the basis for a court order “erasing” the conviction.  Erasure results in destruction of the record after three years, after which the conviction has no predicate effect.  Certificates of rehabilitation (sometimes styled certificates of employability) are available at any time after sentencing to remove mandatory bars to certain employment or licenses, and they are available to individuals with out-of-state and federal convictions.  Pardons are frequent and the process regular: the overall pardon grant rate for those who are eligible has increased in the past five years from under 50% in 2013 to over 75% in 2018.

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Delaware

The governor has the power to pardon but may not act without an affirmative recommendation from a clemency board composed of senior government officials, chaired by the lieutenant governor.  A person is eligible to apply 3-5 years following completion of sentence, depending on seriousness of the offense, and earlier in extraordinary circumstances.  Public hearings are held at regular monthly intervals, and board recommendations and reasons are announced at hearing.  The process takes about 6 months.  A pardon relieves all legal disabilities except constitutional provisions barring someone convicted of “infamous crime” from holding state office.  As of 2019, a pardoned conviction is eligible for discretionary expungement, but it may still be used as predicate.  Pardons are frequent and the process regular: more than 400 pardons have been granted annually in recent years; about 80% of those whose cases went to hearing.

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District of Columbia

Only the president can pardon D.C. Code criminal offenses.  Under Justice Department regulations there is a five-year eligibility period (after completion of sentence or release from confinement).  There is no hearing, and no time limit on process.  In 2018 a specialized clemency board to consider only D.C. Code offenses was established by the D.C. City Council, but it has not been funded.  Pardons are rare: Presidential clemency of any kind for D.C. Code offenses has been extremely rare in the past thirty years.

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Florida

The governor and three cabinet officials act as pardon board; governor decides with concurrence of two of those officials.  The governor must report pardons and grants to restore civil rights to the legislature.  Pardon eligibility begins ten years following completion of sentence.  Restoration of rights is also available from the pardon board, with eligibility from five to seven years after completion of sentence, depending on seriousness of offense; firearms restoration is available eight years after completion of sentence.  A public hearing is required for pardon, and for restoration of voting rights for more serious offenses.  Pardon relieves collateral consequences but may serve as predicate.  The pardon process is regular but full pardons have been infrequent in recent years.  About 300-400 grants to restore civil rights are made each year.

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Georgia

An independent board appointed by the governor exercises the pardon power, reporting annually to legislature, the governor, and the attorney general.  The board issues pardons both with and without restoration of firearms rights.  The board may also restore civil and political rights to persons with federal and out-of-state convictions.  Eligibility for pardon five years after completion of sentence (including payment of court debt), restoration of rights after two years.  People with sex offenses must wait 10 years.  The board conducts a paper review, decides by majority vote, and issues a written decision.  Pardon relieves all legal disabilities except public office, and it is effective to remove from the sex offender registry.  However, it does not expunge the record, and a pardoned conviction may be used as a predicate.  Pardons are frequent and the process regular: in recent years between 400 and 600 pardons and restorations have been granted each year, about 60% with firearms restoration.

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Hawaii

The governor issues pardons and is authorized but not required to consult the parole board for a recommendation.  The board investigates each case and interviews the applicant, but there is no public hearing.  It then makes a recommendation to the attorney general’s office, which conducts its own investigation and makes a recommendation to the governor.  Five-year eligibility waiting period, with all fines paid and no pending charges.  Pardon relieves all legal disabilities but does not expunge the record, and a pardoned conviction may be used as a predicate.  The pardon process is regular, but pardons have been infrequent in recent years.

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Idaho

An independent board appointed by governor unilaterally grants pardon except for crimes involving serious violence and drugs, which must be approved by the governor.  The reasons for each pardon must be filed with Secretary of State.  Eligibility begins three years after completion of sentence for non-violent offenses and after five years for violent offenses.  An extensive application process and full hearing is required.  Pardon relieves legal disabilities, including firearms rights, but is not grounds for expungement.  The pardon process is regular, and a high percentage of those that apply are granted.

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Illinois

The governor decides and is authorized to consult with the prisoner review board, which holds public hearings quarterly and provides confidential recommendations to the governor.  No eligibility restrictions.  Pardon relieves all legal disabilities and authorizes expungement if pardon expressly provides.  Board hears about 800 applications each year, 30% from people with misdemeanors.  The past several governors have pardoned frequently and regularly pursuant to recommendations from the PRB.  In 2019, the governor used his pardon power to authorize expungement of more than 11,000 marijuana convictions, pursuant to statutory authorization.

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Indiana

The governor decides and is authorized (but not required) to consult with the parole board, which may make non-binding recommendations to the governor.  The governor must report annually to legislature on each grant at its next scheduled meeting.  The board notifies victims, court, and prosecutor, and it investigates and holds a hearing where petitioner and interested parties are given an opportunity to be heard.  Recent governors have required a five-year waiting period and evidence of rehabilitation, with a 15-year waiting period for firearms restoration.  Pardon alleviates collateral consequences and serves as basis for automatic expungement.  Process is regular but pardons are infrequent.

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Iowa

The governor’s pardon power is subject to statutory regulation, and he is required to consider non-binding recommendations from the parole board.  The governor must report to the legislature every two years on his pardons, with the reasons for each one.  For restoration of rights, application may be filed upon completion of sentence, including payment of court costs.  For a full pardon, applications may be submitted at any time, but by policy the governor requires a ten-year waiting period after completion of sentence for pardon.  There is a five-year waiting period for firearms restoration.  People with out-of-state and federal offenses are eligible for restoration of rights, but they may also have rights restored in the jurisdiction of conviction.  Pardons relieve legal disabilities but do not result in expungement or sealing.  Pardoning in Iowa is infrequent but the process relatively regular: of the few people who apply for pardon or restoration of firearms, a substantial percentage (30%) get relief.

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Kansas

The governor is required to consult with the prisoner review board before issuing any pardon, but its advice is not binding.  The governor must report pardons, but not reasons, to legislature each year.  There are no eligibility requirements, and no hearing, but applicants are required to publish application in a newspaper in the county of conviction and to provide notice to prosecutor, judge, and victims.  Pardon removes legal disabilities but does not expunge the conviction.  Pardons in Kansas are rare, with expungement the preferred restoration remedy.

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Kentucky

The governor is authorized (but not required) to consult the parole board and is not bound by its advice.  The governor must report to legislature annually on pardons granted with reasons.  Applicants must wait seven years after completion of sentence before applying, and no public hearing.  Pardon power also used to restore right to vote and hold office upon expiration of sentence if no pending charges, and people with federal and out-of-state offenses eligible for this relief.  Full pardon relieves all legal disabilities, but no expungement and may be used as predicate.  Pardons have customarily been issued at the end of a Kentucky governor’s term, and Governor Bevin issued hundreds of pardons in December 2019 as he was leaving office.  His successor Governor Andy Beshear restored the vote by executive order to many thousands convicted of non-violent crimes during his first days in office.

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Lousiana

The governor may not grant a pardon without the affirmative recommendation of the parole board.  Eligibility begins after completion of sentence, plus payment of costs.  Public hearings held at regular intervals, with approval of 4/5 board members required.  Prosecutor and victims must be notified by board and applicant must publish notice in newspaper.  Full pardon restores “status of innocence,” and may not be used as predicate or to enhance sentence.  Statutory first offender pardon automatically restores civil rights, and as of 2019 is grounds for expungement, but it does not restore firearms rights or preclude use of a conviction in subsequent prosecution or sentencing.  Pardoning has become frequent and regular under the current governor (John Bel Edwards), who issued 167 pardons in his first term, reviving a process that had languished under his predecessor.

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Maine

The governor’s constitutional pardon power is subject to regulation “relative to the manner of applying,” but the only regulation relates to the applicant’s obligation to notify the prosecutor and post a notice in the newspaper in county of conviction prior to a hearing.  The governor is advised by a non-statutory advisory board that he appoints.  Eligibility begins five years after completion of sentence; public hearings are held at regular intervals, and the board makes confidential recommendations to governor after an investigation by the Department of Corrections. Pardon relieves all legal disabilities and evidences rehabilitation, and results in the record being given the same degree of confidentiality as a non-conviction record.  Pardons have been infrequent and the process irregular in recent years.

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Maryland

The governor decides, and he is authorized (but not required) to consult with the parole commission for non-binding advice.  Constitution requires governor to publish notice of intent to pardon in newspaper and to report each pardon, with reasons, to legislature.  Eligibility under formal regulations requires only completion of sentence, but informal parole commission guidelines require 10 crime-free years after completion of sentence to be eligible (or seven years with parole commission waiver), five years for misdemeanors, and 20 years for crimes of violence and for controlled substances violations.  Paper review by parole board.  Pardon lifts all legal disabilities and penalties imposed by conviction; firearms restoration must be express in pardon.  Pardoned non-violent first offenses are eligible for expungement.  Pardoning varies with the administration: the current governor (J.B. Pritzker) has commuted a handful of prison sentences since taking office in 2015, but he has issued no pardons.

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Massachusetts

The governor may not issue any pardons without the affirmative recommendation of the governor’s council and must report pardons annually to the legislature.  By statute, petitions must be filed with advisory board of pardons, which holds a public hearing and solicits recommendations from attorney general, prosecutor, and sentencing court; board provides notice to victim and forwards recommendation to governor.  Under informal board guidelines, eligibility begins 15 years after conviction or release from prison for felonies and 10 years for misdemeanors.  Record sealed upon pardon.  Pardons have been infrequent since 1990; only six since 2002 (by Gov. Patrick), and none by Governor Baker after five years in office.

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Michigan

The governor decides after mandatory (though non-binding) consultation with parole board.  The governor is required to report annually to legislature a list of pardons with reasons.  There are no statutory eligibility criteria, but the process before the board is set forth in detail.  All applications must be referred to the parole board; if board holds a hearing, relevant officials must be notified, and the board’s recommendation is a matter of public record.  The board will not process a pardon application where expungement is an available remedy. Pardon restores person to same position as if the offense had never been committed but it is not clear whether it is a basis for sealing.  Post-sentence pardons have been infrequent in recent years despite hundreds of applications received every year.

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Minnesota

The governor and high officials (attorney general, chief justice) act as pardon board, which is required to report to the legislature annually.  The commissioner of corrections serves as secretary of the board and screens applications.  Eligibility for a “pardon extraordinary” requires five crime-free years from final discharge for non-violent crimes, and 10 years for violent crimes and drug felonies.  Only those deemed eligible are permitted to file an application, and waivers of the eligibility waiting period are rarely granted.  A “pardon extraordinary” restores all rights and effectively “nullifies” a conviction by setting it aside, but it does not seal or expunge the record.  Process includes public hearing with notice to officials and victims, with a decision announced at end of hearing.  The pardon process is regular, but grants are issued sparingly (about 10-20 each year, or about 1/3 of those whose cases are heard).

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Mississippi

The governor decides and is authorized (but not required) to consult the parole board for non-binding advice.  By informal policy eligibility begins seven years after completion of sentence.  The constitution requires all applicants for pardon to post notice in a newspaper in the county of conviction 30 days prior to making application to governor, setting forth the reasons why clemency should be granted.  The parole board investigates and holds hearing on facially meritorious cases.  Pardon restores civil rights and removes employment disabilities, but it does not result in expungement.  Pardons are infrequent and the process irregular: following a scandal involving many irregular grants at the end of Governor Haley Barbour’s term in 2012, his successor issued no pardons through the end of his term in January 2020.

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Missouri

The governor’s constitutional pardon power is subject to regulation relative to “the manner of applying.”  The parole board must be consulted, but its advice is not binding.  Eligibility begins three years after discharge, and there is no provision for a hearing.  Pardon relieves all legal disabilities, and a pardoned conviction may not be used to enhance the penalty in a subsequent case, but it does not expunge.  Pardons have been infrequent in recent years, despite a dramatic increase in applications and calls in the press for the governor to deal with a large backlog.

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Montana

The pardon power is vested in the governor, but the legislature may control the process.  The governor must report pardons, with reasons, to the legislature.  Prior to March 2015, the governor could issue a pardon only upon the favorable recommendation of the board of pardons and parole, but the board’s role in clemency cases has been converted by constitutional amendment to an advisory one.  While the governor is still required by statute to premise action on a board recommendation, after a hearing, that recommendation is no longer binding. There are no formal eligibility criteria.  A pardon removes legal consequences of conviction and is grounds for expungement.  Pardons are infrequently recommended by the board and even less frequently granted by the governor.

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Nebraska

The governor and high officials (secretary of state and attorney general) act as a pardon board, which receives nonbinding advice from the parole board.  Eligibility begins 10 years following completion of sentence for felonies and three years for misdemeanors.  Until 2018, public hearings were held at regular intervals, and grants issued, a schedule that the board intends to resume in 2020.  Reasons for approval or denial generally not given.  A pardon restores civil rights, the right to hold certain occupational and professional licenses, and firearms rights (if expressly granted).  As of 2018, pardoned conviction may be sealed.  Until recently, pardoning has been frequent and regular: between 2002 and 2017 an average of 80 pardons granted each year, about 25% with firearms privileges, about 60% of applicants are granted.  It is expected that this practice will resume in 2020.

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Nevada

The governor and high officials (justices of supreme court and attorney general) act as a pardon board, and all pardons must be reported regularly to the legislature.  Changes to several constitutionally required aspects of board operations, including that the governor approve all grants, have been approved twice by the legislature and will be considered by voters in 2020.  No formal eligibility requirements, but applicants typically required to wait “a significant period of time.”  Public hearings held at irregular intervals, and non-violent first offenders may be considered on consent calendar.  Pardon removes all disabilities, including firearms and licensing bars, but does not seal record and may serve as predicate.  Process takes about two years.  Pardoning is frequent and regular: about 30 grants made each year since 2013, a substantial percentage of those that apply.

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New Hampshire

The governor may not act without the affirmative recommendation of the executive council.  Persons eligible for “annulment” under state law generally will not be considered for a pardon.  Pardon eliminates all consequences of conviction but does not expunge the record.  Pardons are rare: while the governor receives several dozen applications each year, only three pardons have been granted since 1996.

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New Jersey

The governor decides and is authorized (but not required) to consult the parole board for non-binding advice.  The governor must report pardons, with reasons, to legislature.  No published eligibility criteria, and the process is not formalized in statute.  Pardon restores rights and a court may expunge pardoned convictions.  Pardons are infrequent and the process irregular: recent governors have granted relatively few pardons, and generally only at end of their terms.

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New Mexico

The governor decides and is authorized (but not required) to consult parole board for non-binding advice or investigation.  Current eligibility guidelines require lengthy waiting periods after discharge from sentence, and exclude many categories of offense, including misdemeanors.  The process is informal.  A pardon restores rights of citizenship and relieves other legal disabilities under state law, but it does not expunge the records or preclude use as a predicate or for an enhancement.  Pardons have been infrequent under recent governors: Gov. Lujan Grisham signaled a new approach to executive clemency with the issuance of guidelines calling for a “holistic” approach, but she had issued no grants by March 2020.

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New York

The governor decides and is authorized (but not required) to consult parole board for non-binding advice; governor must report pardons, with reasons, to legislature annually.  No stated eligibility criteria or formal process, and applicants generally not considered if alternative administrative remedies are available.  Gov. Andrew Cuomo has exercised his pardon power in several unusual ways to benefit different classes of individuals, reviving a tradition of pardoning that had been dormant in New York for several terms.  As of December 3, 2019, Governor Cuomo had pardoned more than 50 non-citizens facing deportation or other immigration-related restrictions, restored the right to vote to more than 24,000 parolees, and granted conditional pardons to more than 140 individuals prosecuted as adults when teenagers.  Given the other restoration remedies available under New York law, it is not surprising that pardons have not been routinely available otherwise.

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North Carolina

The governor decides and is authorized (but not required) to consult the parole board.  Some aspects of the pardon process are specified in statute, and the governor has an office of executive clemency that ostensibly receives applications for pardons “for forgiveness.”  However, pardons for forgiveness are rare: there has not been such a pardon granted in the State for more than 20 years, though there have been six pardons for innocence since 2001.

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North Dakota

The governor decides and is authorized (but not required) to appoint a “pardon advisory board,” consisting of the state attorney general, two members of the parole board, and two citizens, staffed by the corrections department.  According to published criteria, an applicant “must have encountered a significant problem with the consequences of the conviction or sentence (e.g. inability to obtain or maintain licensures or certifications necessary for employment)” or demonstrate some other “compelling need for relief as a result of unusual circumstances.”  In addition, persons convicted of possession of marijuana who have not had any convictions in the past 5 years may submit “a Summary Pardon Application.”  There is no public hearing, but by statute the DA must be given advance notice.  A pardon relieves collateral penalties, but does not authorize expungement, and conviction may still serve as predicate.  Ordinary pardons have been infrequent in recent years.  Beginning in January 2020 applications for marijuana pardons are being fast-tracked for favorable consideration.

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Ohio

The governor decides but is required to consult with the parole board for non-binding advice; the governor must report pardons to legislature.  A person may apply at any time.  The board may hold hearing in meritorious cases, with prior notice to court, prosecutor and victim.  No reasons are given in the event of denial.  A pardon relieves all disabilities but does not entitle the recipient to have the record sealed.  Pardoning has varied with administration, and the power was exercised sparingly by Gov. John Kasich (2011-19).  The current governor Mike DeWine has established an expedited pardon process that is expected to lead to more regular grants, and has an eligibility waiting period of 10 years.

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Oklahoma

The governor may not act without the affirmative recommendation of the board of pardons and parole; governor must report pardons, but not reasons, to legislature.  Eligibility begins after completion of sentence, or after five years under supervision.  The board holds a public hearing in every case (the applicant generally does not appear) and it may take official action only in an open public meeting (though it need not give reasons).  The process usually takes about six months.  Pardon relieves legal disabilities except that firearms rights may not be restored to those convicted of violent crimes.  In 2019 the law was amended to permit a person who has been pardoned to seek expungement, eliminating requirements that the crime be non-violent, that the governor make a finding of innocence, and that the pardoned person wait ten years.  Pardoning is frequent and regular: for the past fifteen years, the governor has approved more than 100 pardons every year, and this number has continued to grow, with about 150 grants in 2019.  The board makes a favorable recommendation in about 80% of the cases it hears, and the governor generally approves them.

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Oregon

The governor decides with no provision for advice, and process is informal within governor’s office; governor must report pardons, with reasons, to legislature.  The governor generally will not consider misdemeanors and minor felonies, for which set-aside is available.  Relieves all legal disabilities and, as of 2019, authorizes the court to seal the record.  Pardons have been infrequent under recent governors.

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Pennsylvania

The governor may not act without an affirmative recommendation from a pardon board chaired by the lieutenant governor.  The board asks applicants to identify a specific need for clemency, but “does not view a pardon as an appropriate means of restoring any disability that has been imposed pursuant to a state law,” except for firearms disabilities.  Pardon results in automatic expungement.  Pardons are frequent and the process regular: between 400-500 applications received each year, about half of which are granted a hearing; most of those heard are recommended favorably, and under the current governor almost all of those recommended favorably are granted (an average of about 200-250 each year).

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Puerto Rico

The governor decides and may (but is not required to) consult parole board.  No formal eligibility requirements, but recent policy has imposed a five-year waiting period after completion of sentence.  No public hearing.  Pardon “eliminates” the conviction from police and court records.

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Rhode Island

The governor may not act without affirmative recommendation of state senate, with the result that pardons are rare (none since 2000).  No eligibility requirements, and no process specified.  Restores right to hold public office and lifts occupational and licensing bars.

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South Carolina

Pardons are granted by an independent board appointed by governor, except in capital cases.  Eligibility following completion of sentence or after five years under supervision and payment of restitution in full.  Public hearings.  Pardon erases all legal effects of conviction, including sex offender registration and predicate effect, but does not result in sealing or expungement.  Pardons are frequent and the process regular: about 300 pardons are granted each year, 65% of those who apply.

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South Dakota

The governor refers applicants to a board of pardon and parole for non-binding recommendation; only pardons granted after consideration by board qualify for sealing.  An applicant must notify DA and sentencing judge and publish notice of application in a newspaper once a week for three weeks.  No eligibility waiting period except that board generally applies a five-year waiting period after completion of sentence (including payment of court debt).  People with first offenses may apply for “exceptional pardon” wait five years after release, which expedites process.  People with misdemeanors are also eligible for expedited processing, though waiting period is either 5 or 10 years (depending on the conviction).  Board conducts public hearings at regular intervals, sends recommendations to governor.  Typically, it takes the board six months to process a case.  Pardon relieves legal disabilities, including firearms if separately specified, results in sealing (if board process followed), and eliminates predicate effect.  Pardons are frequent and process regular: about 30-40 pardons are granted annually, more than half of those who apply.

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Tennessee

The governor decides and may (but is not required to) consult the parole board for non-binding advice.  Governor must report reasons to legislature “when requested.”  Eligibility after completion of sentence and additional period of good conduct; grants will be based on demonstrated rehabilitation and need, considering whether the applicant has an alternative remedy available.  A hearing is not held in every case (2/3 of applications filed are denied without a hearing).   If a hearing is held, the board notifies various interested parties, including the prosecutor, judge, and police.  Pardon restores civil rights, and firearms rights for nonviolent non-drug offenses.  Process appears regular but pardons infrequent.

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Texas

The governor may not grant a pardon except upon the affirmative recommendation of the board of pardons and paroles.  The board considers cases confidentially on a written record and recommends only a small percentage of those that apply.  Eligibility upon completion of sentence; people convicted of misdemeanors may apply.  Pardon restores civil rights, removes some legal barriers to employment and licensing, and provides basis for expungement upon application to court.  Process regular but pardons granted sparingly.

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Utah

The pardon power is exercised by an independent board appointed by the governor.  The board conducts a public hearing with notice to the DA and victim.  Board requires a waiting period of five years after completion of sentence, decides by majority vote and publishes its decision with a statement of reasons.  An individual who is eligible for expungement must first exhaust that remedy.  Pardon restores all rights and relieves legal disabilities, except that it will generally state whether it restores firearms rights.  Pardons more frequent in recent years as expungement relief less available.

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Vermont

The governor decides and may consult parole board.  Eligibility generally 10 years after conviction; must show rehabilitation, benefit to society, and employment-related need.  No hearing.  Restores rights and relieves disabilities, including firearms.  Pardons infrequent.

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Virgin Islands

The governor has power to pardon offenses under local laws, and no specific process is specified.  Each governor appears to follow their own procedures and standards.

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Virginia

The governor decides and must report each pardon, with reasons, to the legislature annually.  The governor is authorized to consult with the parole board for non-binding advice.  There are several different kinds of pardon: “simple” (forgiveness); partial (to reduce sentence retroactively and used to avoid immigration consequences); “conditional” (commutation); and “absolute” (innocence).  “Simple” pardon does not expunge but serves as official forgiveness and removes some employment and education barriers.  Five-year eligibility waiting period for simple pardon, review on a paper record by the parole board with subsequent recommendation to the governor.  The governor may also grant restoration of rights through the pardon power, and since 2016 rights restoration has been automatic upon a determination of eligibility and accomplished through issuance of periodic executive orders.  Pardons in the past 10 years have been issued frequently and the process has become regular and productive.

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Washington

The governor decides and is authorized (but not required) to seek advice from the clemency and pardons board.  The governor required by state constitution to report pardons, with reasons, to legislature.  No formal eligibility waiting period, but applicants are generally required to wait 10 years after service of sentence.  No formal eligibility criteria, but 10 years’ wait usually required.  A petition must be filed with the board, which cannot recommend clemency until a public hearing has been held.  A pardon relieves legal disabilities and vacates the record of conviction, which may be grounds for sealing of record.  Process is regular but pardons are granted sparingly: Gov. Inslee has granted 48 pardons since taking office in 2013, about half of those recommended by the board.

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West Virginia

The governor decides and is authorized (but not required) to seek advice from the parole board.  The state constitution requires the governor to report pardons, with reasons, to legislature.  No formal eligibility criteria.  The board does not conduct a public hearing but must notify DA and judge before making recommendation.  Pardon lifts most legal barriers and restores firearms rights, but a pardoned conviction may be given predicate effect.  Pardons are rare.

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Wisconsin

The governor decides and is assisted by a non-statutory pardon advisory board that he or she appoints.  The state constitution requires the governor to communicate pardons, with reasons, to legislature annually.  Five-year eligibility waiting period, and people with misdemeanors are ineligible.  The board holds a hearing where applicants must demonstrate a need for pardon.  Applicants are required by statute to publish notice of their intent to seek pardon and give notice to DA and sentencing judge.  The board must notify the victim.  Pardon relieves legal disabilities but does not expunge or seal the conviction.  Pardon policy and practice has in the past been regular and generous, and the present incumbent Gov. Tony Evers has resumed regular pardoning after a 9-year hiatus in which governors declined to issue any pardons.

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Wyoming

The governor decides and must report pardons, with reasons, to the legislature every two years.  The governor may also restore the right to vote if this is not automatic.  People with federal and out-of-state offenses are also eligible for restoration of rights.  Eligibility for pardon 10 years after completion of sentence; 5 years for restoration of rights.  Sex offenses ineligible for either form of relief.  Pardon relieves legal disabilities but does not expunge.  Pardons have been infrequent in recent years: the last two governors have granted no pardons.

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