Governor Jerry Brown Announced that he has Granted 143 Pardons and 131 Commutations

On December 24, 2018, Governor Jerry Brown announced that he has granted 143 pardons and 131 commutations.[1]

The Governor’s power to grant a pardon or commutation is vested in Section 8 of Article V of the California Constitution. The Governor must report all pardons and commutations to the Legislature and must detail the pertinent facts and the reasons for granting it. If a person has been twice convicted of a felony, the Governor may not pardon or commute a sentence except on recommendation of the Supreme Court, with 4 judges concurring.

For most individuals the first step in applying for a pardon begins with obtaining a certificate of rehabilitation from the superior court in which they reside or where the conviction took place. The grant of a certificate of rehabilitation acts as an automatic recommendation and application to the Governor for a pardon.

A pardon is an honor and individuals must show exemplary behavior following their conviction in order to be granted a pardon. According to the Office of the Governor, historically Governors have granted very few pardons.

A commutation is a reduction of a sentence and individuals currently serving a sentence for a conviction by the California courts can petition for this relief. Typically, in these cases the individual has been given the opportunity to “make their case” before the Board of Parole Hearing.

The California Supreme Court has recently rejected 7 of Governor Jerry Brown’s attempts to grant a pardon or commutation for individuals twice convicted of a felony.

Governor Jerry Brown granted more pardons and commutations than any of his eight predecessors, align with his approval of other legislation aimed at reducing the prison population and providing post-conviction relief to certain offenders.


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[1] For a full list of the pardons and commutations visit the following link: