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GooMar - Sweet Leaf ft. Mad Pressure While the governor has unfettered discretion to exercise pardoning powers, Wisconsin governors have been very judicious in their exercise of that power because of potential political fallout, public safety concerns, and recognition that a lenient practice in granting pardons would result in a veritable flood of applications. Similarly, certain crimes are so abhorrent to the public that, absent extremely compelling circumstances, no governor would think of granting clemency to persons who have committed those crimes.

Finally, time constraints, staff budgeting, and other duties mandate that the grant of clemency be the exception, not the rule. Indeed, in the last 25 years, Wisconsin governors have granted only pardons, 46 commutations, and no reprieves. See Figure 1. To prevent the governor from being inundated with applications, to insulate the governor during the application process, and to provide a system that carefully evaluates the merits of each application, recent governors have established a screening panel or board by executive order. Along with establishing a Pardon Advisory Board, the governor can promulgate a set of rules or procedures for applying for a pardon to supplement those established by the legislature.

Typical practice has been to issue rules that:. Typically, the rules also provide for notice to, and input from, the victim, the district attorney who prosecuted the case, and the judge who entered the conviction judgment. Further, the DOC Records Center is asked to provide information concerning the person's conduct while the person was serving his or her sentence.

The Pardon Advisory Board performs many roles for the governor.

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First, it evaluates the merits of the application and makes a specific recommendation to the governor whether to grant or deny the application. Second, it tests the applicant's sincerity and credibility in a hearing-type proceeding in which the applicant makes a presentation and is subject to questioning, often pointed and very blunt, by board members.

Third, it provides insulation for the governor in cases in which the crime is very abhorrent or socially unacceptable, the circumstances do not merit the pardon, or a governor's acquaintance or supporter asks for a pardon that is not justified. The process is fairly straightforward. After a complete application is filed with the governor's office, the matter is scheduled for a hearing before the Pardon Advisory Board. Typically, it takes several months for a hearing to be held because of the great number of pardon applications.

Each applicant is given approximately 15 to 30 minutes to make his or her case and answer questions. After all the presentations are made, the board votes on recommendations to the governor. The board's recommendations usually are delivered personally to the governor by the governor's legal counsel. The governor reviews the file and the board's recommendation for each case, discusses the case with the legal counsel, and then decides whether to grant clemency.

If clemency is denied, the applicant is notified by letter, which usually states a reason for the denial. If clemency is granted, the governor signs a formal certificate, a copy of which is filed with the secretary of state. Current practice is to also send the original certificate to the secretary of state, who countersigns it, applies the Great Seal of the State of Wisconsin, and returns it to the governor's office for delivery to the successful applicant.

Several factors, which incorporate basic principles of common sense, are taken into account by the Pardon Advisory Board and by the governor in deciding whether to grant executive clemency. Any person contemplating applying for clemency must pay attention to each of these crucial factors:. Certain crimes are so serious and so objectionable that it would be difficult, if not impossible, to forgive the punishment. Persons convicted of extremely violent crimes, aggravated crimes against security and persons, crimes against young children, or multiple serious crimes especially those occurring over a period of time usually have little chance of securing a pardon.

See Figure 2. This very important factor not only helps establish whether there is a risk that the person will revert to criminal conduct but also provides a sense of whether a significant enough punishment has been imposed for the criminal transgression. The more time that has passed between the conviction and completion of sentence and the clemency application, assuming exemplary conduct during that time, the better.

Early release from probation is an asset. Fully meeting all conditions of supervision shows an acceptance of the consequences of the crime. Bad conduct in prison or under supervision shows the opposite and may indicate that the applicant did not or does not fully understand the significance of his or her actions. This is often referred to as the "you must have lived like a saint" factor. An applicant must demonstrate that he or she has turned his or her life around by becoming a productive member of society.

There simply can be no substantial contact with law enforcement authorities after the criminal conviction. Today, a person's criminal, civil, and driving records are easily obtained. This factor is critical. Both the Pardon Advisory Board and the governor are very reluctant to forgive the consequences of a serious criminal conviction simply because "I want to go deer hunting, but cannot possess a gun" 39 or "I want my record cleared.

A pardon applicant typically will, and should, submit letters of support from community leaders favorable to the application. A letter from a local law enforcement official, a community leader, a coworker, an employer, or a person who holds a position of respect and trust in the community who knows the applicant is very important. This often presents a dilemma for the pardon applicant. In many cases even the applicant's best friends and coworkers may not be aware that the applicant has a felony conviction. An applicant also must face having to reveal to friends and family a conviction that happened years ago.

It is especially challenging for applicants to tell their children that their father or mother was convicted of a serious crime and even served time in prison. Further, the pardon process is a process open to the public and the press. Anyone can review the pardon application and the materials submitted with it.

Occasionally, pardon applications receive substantial press coverage. This factor is more or less an evaluation of all the other factors. Since the rules require that the district attorney who prosecuted the crime be notified, the district attorney has the opportunity to make comments to the Pardon Advisory Board and therefore to the governor on whether the pardon should be granted. Typically, a district attorney will either not respond or will respond in a neutral fashion. However, a district attorney's negative response can have a very adverse impact on the pardon process; conversely, a positive response has a positive impact.

Similarly, the sentencing judge is also notified. His or her comments can have a substantial impact, with positive comments being very beneficial and negative comments being very detrimental. Letters or testimony from victims, a probation agent, or other members of the public, all can and do affect the pardoning decision process, with letters and personal appearances by victims having a great potential positive or negative impact.

31. Pardon The Interruption…

The pardon application presents the Pardon Advisory Board with its first look at the applicant and the applicant's qualifications under the above factors. The applicant's personal appearance at the hearing before the board presents the board with an opportunity to judge the credibility and sincerity of the applicant.

The applicant must take both the application and the hearing very seriously. Only the governor wields the power to pardon in Wisconsin. If, as Oscar Schindler said, "The greatest power of all is the power to forgive," then the governor of Wisconsin possesses great power indeed. How the governor exercises that power is solely up to the governor.

It is a power jealously guarded by governors and their legal counsels for exactly that reason. Constitution, which grants the President the power to "grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offences against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment. See Swan v. LaFollette, Wis. While there is logic to the argument that the Wisconsin governor should be able to relieve any disability imposed by Wisconsin law for a conviction of a crime in federal or another state's courts, comity and perhaps common sense dictates otherwise.

Undertaking such action puts the governor on the slippery slope of evaluating the nature, context, and impact of another jurisdiction's criminal pronouncement. Authority : U. II, Sec. A person seeking executive clemency by pardon, reprieve, commutation of sentence, or remission of fine shall execute a formal petition. Petitions and other required forms may be obtained from the Pardon Attorney. Petition forms for commutation of sentence also may be obtained from the wardens of federal penal institutions.

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A petitioner applying for executive clemency with respect to military offenses should submit his or her petition directly to the Secretary of the military department that had original jurisdiction over the court-martial trial and conviction of the petitioner. In such a case, a form furnished by the Pardon Attorney may be used but should be modified to meet the needs of the particular case. Each petition for executive clemency should include the information required in the form prescribed by the Attorney General.

No petition for pardon should be filed until the expiration of a waiting period of at least five years after the date of the release of the petitioner from confinement or, in case no prison sentence was imposed, until the expiration of a period of at least five years after the date of the conviction of the petitioner.

Generally, no petition should be submitted by a person who is on probation, parole, or supervised release.