Applicable Form of Executive Clemency: Commutation of Sentence

It is the policy of the Arizona Board of Executive Clemency to conduct a hearing for all applicants deemed eligible by the Department of Corrections. The purpose of this hearing is to determine whether to recommend to the Governor that a commutation of sentence be granted. If granted, the action changes the penalty imposed by a court on a convicted felon to one that is less severe, but does not restore the inmate's civil rights.

Eligibility: Only applicants who have served two years from the date their sentence began and are not within one year of their parole eligibility or mandatory release will be considered. Applicants who have only served one year of their sentence may be eligible for consideration and action by the Board if all of the following apply: 1) the applicant's sentence is three years or less and 2) the applicant is not within six months of their earliest eligibility release date.

Applicants who are denied clemency are eligible to repetition two years after final action by the Board. Subsequent applications for a commutation of sentence for an offense committed on or after January 1, 2006, not governed by ARS § 31-403 are also not eligible for reconsideration by the Board until two years have passed since the final action by the Board. Applicants are governed by ARS § 31-403 if the offense involved death, serious physical injury, a crime against children, or a felony offense and at the discretion of the Board may be required not reapply until up to five years have passed.

For offenses committed on or after 1/1/94: At the time of sentencing, if the court is of the opinion that the law requires it to impose a clearly excessive sentence, the court may enter a special order allowing the person sentenced to petition the Board for a commutation of sentence within 90 days after the person is committed to the custody of the Department of Corrections.

When the applicant is in imminent danger of death, and the medical status has been verified by the Department of Corrections, or the Board has received a warrant of execution issued by the Arizona Supreme Court, the Board may waive the above eligibility criteria and schedule a Phase II hearing. In order for the Board to consider the application, however, the applicant must meet the statutory eligibility criteria.

Application Process: Applications are available by contacting:

Arizona Board of Executive Clemency 
1645 West Jefferson, Suite 326 
Phoenix, AZ 85007 
Tel: (602) 542-5656 
Fax: (602) 542-5680

Click here for downloadable clemency forms.

Completed applications are sent to the Department of Corrections. Only those applicants deemed eligible after review by the Department of Corrections will be scheduled for a hearing.

Commutation hearings are held in two phases. The exception to this is if the applicant is in imminent danger of death and the medical status has been verified, or if the Board has received a warrant of execution issued by the Arizona Supreme Court. Then the Board may waive a phase one hearing.

On the date set by the Chairperson for the Phase 1 hearing, the Board will review the applications, applicant's files, letters and all relevant information. The Phase 1 hearing is an "in absentia" hearing, meaning the applicant is not present; however, family, friends, victims, other witnesses and legal counsel may submit written information concerning the matter or may provide oral testimony. At the conclusion of the hearing, the Board may take one of the following actions:

1) Find by majority vote of the Board members that there is no basis for further consideration on the application.

2) Find by majority vote of the Board members that sufficient reasons exist to warrant further investigation, and pass the matter to a Phase II hearing.

At the Phase II hearing, the Board will interview the applicant, review all relevant information including the comprehensive report prepared by Board staff, and take testimony from family, friends, victims, other witnesses and/or legal counsel. At the conclusion of the hearing, a final decision is made to either recommend this action to the Governor or not to recommend this action to the Governor.

When a majority of the Board vote to recommend a commutation of sentence to the Governor, a letter of recommendation is prepared that includes reasons for the affirmative vote. Letters of dissent may also be prepared and forwarded.

Letters of recommendation and if applicable dissent, along with case materials considered by the Board at the Phase II hearing, are transmitted to the Governor by the Chairman.

Every effort has been made to make this information accurate and up-to-date. Errors are inevitable and changes occur frequently. We would appreciate learning of any errors or inaccuracies regarding any information as soon as possible. Please write to

Last Updated: 06/20/14