Applicable Form of Executive Clemency: Commutation of Sentence

Eligibility: Executive clemency rules require an inmate to obtain an Eligibility Rule Waiver from the Pardon Advisory Board allowing him or her to apply while incarcerated. A waiver will be granted if the applicant can demonstrate that there are extraordinary circumstances showing that he or she should be eligible to apply.

If your application is denied, you may re-apply 18 months after the date on the letter denying your application.

Application Process: As mentioned above, an inmate must first obtain a waiver. Inmates should request a waiver from the Governor's Pardon Advisory Board at the address below.

Office of the Governor
Pardon Advisory Board
Room 115 East
State Capitol
P.O. Box 7863
Madison, WI 53707
Tel: (608) 266-1212

If your waiver request is accepted, you will be mailed an application for executive clemency to be returned to the Board. Click here for pardon and commutation applications.

Each application is handled on a case by case basis. There is no formula that will guarantee clemency. Among the factors considered by the Board and the Governor are:

  • The seriousness of the crime.
  • Whether a significant and documented need for clemency exists.
  • The applicant's criminal record.
  • The length of time since the crime was committed.
  • The applicant's personal development and progress since the crime was committed.
  • Community or other civic service performed by the applicant.

It is not a requirement that applicants retain a lawyer to file for executive clemency. Applicants are required to submit at least 3 letters of recommendation.

All applicants must submit a certified copy of their Judgement of Conviction, Criminal Complaint, and Docket (sometimes called the Judgement Roll or Minutes).

Included in the application are forms to be sent to the applicant's judge, district attorney, and prison keeper that inform them of the application for clemency. The applicant must complete them and send them directly to these individuals. Utilizing a form included, applicants are also required to inform a local newspaper in the county of their conviction that they are requesting clemency.

Do not staple any documents submitted. Keep a copy of all materials submitted.

After you return the completed application you will be notified via mail when and where your hearing before the Board will be held. The Board meets several times a year. Although there is no requirement that the applicant appear at the hearing, it is highly recommended. The Board will ask the applicant questions and the applicant will have an opportunity to present his or her reasons for seeking a commutation of sentence. The hearing is open to the public and news reporters. When possible, family, friends, and other supporters are permitted to speak on a applicant's behalf. Each applicant appears before the Board for approximately 15 minutes.

The Governor's Pardon Advisory Board consists of six members, including representatives from the Department of Justice, the Department of Corrections, three public members, and typically the Governor's Legal Counsel. Each member is appointed by the Governor.

The Board meets after the hearing, votes to recommend to grant or deny the commutation, and forwards its recommendation to the Governor. The Governor reviews the applicant's file and makes the decision whether to grant or deny the commutation request. Applicants are notified of the Governor's decision by mail.

Due to the volume of applications, the Board alone conducts hearings. The Governor does not meet with any of the applicants.

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 info@cjpf.org

Last Updated: 06/30/14