Applicable form of Executive Clemency: Commutation of Sentence

The Constitution of the State of Tennessee (Article 3, Section 6) grants to the Governor the power to commute sentences. The Tennessee Board of Probation and Parole has the power to consider petitions for commutation and provide non-binding recommendations to the Governor for consideration. The Board has the discretion to make either favorable or unfavorable recommendations.

Eligibility: Inmates who are within 24 months of the expiration of their sentence are not eligible. Any inmate eligible for parole is not eligible for commutation. All other inmates are eligible unless the Board has declined a previous application. In such case, the Board will instruct the inmate when he or she may reapply.

Application Process: Applications are available by contacting:

State of Tennessee 
Board Operations Division 
404 James Robertson Parkway Suite 1300
Nashville, TN 37243-0850 
Tel: (615) 741-1150 
Fax: (615) 741-5337

You can also click here for the commutation application.

Application instructions include:

  • In completing the application, the petitioner should send a cover letter attached to the front of the application specifying why a commutation should be granted.
  • All responses on the application must be typed or legibly printed. Every question must be answered, even if the response is N/A (not applicable).
  • Applicants must submit all verifying information. Do not refer to the Board of Probation and Parole for sources of verification. The Board does not investigate applications.
  • Each completed application must be notarized.
  • If documents have been submitted with past applications for clemency, the applicant must re-submit such documents with each subsequent application.
  • The application should only be accompanied by information relevant to the Governor's criteria.
  • Applicant will be notified in writing when the Board has determined if the application meets the Governor's criteria.
  • If the Board declines an application, the reason for denial will be given, as well as when the applicant may re-apply.
  • The Board has the authority to contact anyone listed on your application.
  • Each application must contain the applicant's signature unless the applicant is physically or mentally incapable of signing, and such is documented in a cover letter with the application.

Once the application is complete, it is sent to four of the seven Board members, who will review it and then must agree on whether or not to hold a public hearing. If the Board denies a hearing, the petition for commutation is denied.

The Governor will consider petitions for relief forwarded to him by the Board. The Governor will notify the Board in writing of the Governor's final determination upon a petition submitted by the Board. The Board shall advise the petitioner of the Governor's final determination. At any time before making a final determination on a petition, the Governor may return a petition to the Board requesting further action, further information, or both.

The Governor reserves the right to waive any of the non-statutory provisions set forth in these guidelines in any case deemed worthy of special consideration due to extraordinary circumstances. The Governor reserves the right to deny a petition for relief even though the petitioner meets the requirements of these advisory guidelines, if the Governor deems that such a denial is warranted.

Governor's Criteria:

The Governor will give serious consideration to commutation of sentence requests where the petitioner has demonstrated by clear and convincing evidence that the petitioner has made exceptional strides in self-development and self-improvement, and would be a law abiding citizen; and either:

  • Petitioner is suffering from a life-threatening illness or has a severe chronic disability, evidence of such illness or disability is appropriately documented, and the relief requested would mitigate said illness or disability; or
  • Petitioner's parent, spouse or child has a life-threatening illness, evidence of such illness is appropriately documented, and the petitioner is the only person able to assist in the care of such person; or
  • Petitioner has been rehabilitated, is no longer a threat to society, has demonstrated, to the extent his age and health permit, a desire and an ability to maintain gainful employment, and fairness supports the petitioner's application.

The application should only be accompanied by the information designated in the Governor's criteria.

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