Applicable Form of Executive Clemency: Commutation of Sentence

Eligibility: You must have paid all court costs, fines, and restitution before your application will be considered. Please include receipts verifying your payments of costs, fines, and restitution ordered by the court.

Application Process: Applications for pardon or commutation of life sentence are obtained here.

You may also request an application for commutation from:

Office of the Governor
State Capitol
1007 East Grand Avenue
Des Moines, IA 50319
Tel: (515)281-5211

Send the fully completed application and letters of recommendation to:

Becky Elming
General Counsel 
Governor's Office 
State Capitol Building 
Des Moines, IA 50319 
Tel: (515) 281-5211

Each application will be forwarded to the Department of Public Safety, Division of Criminal Investigation for a full review of criminal and traffic violations as well as credit history. Applicants are interviewed by a DCI agent. Please note that a DCI agent may contact anyone who is listed on your application as a contact person, reference, or who submits a letter of recommendation to verify that the information provided is correct. According to law, these materials will be reviewed by the Parole Board and the Board's recommendation will be submitted to the Governor's Office.

Letters of Recommendation:

You are strongly encouraged to provide letters of recommendation from the following people at the time you submit your application:

  • Prosecuting attorney in your case
  • Sentencing judge in your case
  • County sheriff in your case or where you currently reside
  • Minister, priest, rabbi, etc. (if applicable)
  • Present and/or former employers
  • Other reputable persons in the community who can testify as to the moral character and good behavior of the applicant

If you are unable to obtain letters of recommendation from such individuals due to factors beyond your control (retirement, relocation, deceased, etc.) please include an explanation on your application.

You are encouraged to obtain as many letters of recommendation as possible. If possible, talk to each letter writer personally and pick up each letter. Letters of recommendation must state that the letter writer is aware that you are seeking commutation. You may provide each letter writer with a copy of these instructions.

The Governor of Iowa has criteria to review commutation applications. The Governor must be convinced that an applicant can satisfy four conditions before he can commute the sentence imposed. The conditions are as follows:

  • Specific Deterrence: Whether the applicant would present a threat to public safety if released.
  • General Deterrence: Whether the granting of a commutation to a particular applicant would weaken the deterrent effect of the punishment on other similarly-situated people.
  • Rehabilitation: Whether the applicant has restored himself or herself, in dignity and capacity, to the level of an individual who deserves to rejoin society, outside of a correctional institute, and move freely within the general public.
  • Retribution: Whether the applicant has suffered from the punishment imposed to sufficiently justify the applicant's release from incarceration at a correctional institute.

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 on this Webpage as soon as possible. Please write to

Last Updated: 06/23/14