Frequently Asked Questions About the Clemency and Pardons Board

In Washington state, certain rights are afforded victims and survivors of victims. These rights are listed in RCW 7.69.010 and in the Washington State Constitution, Article I, Section 35.

RCW 9.94A.885(3) provides that the prosecuting attorney shall make reasonable efforts to notify victims, survivors of victims, witnesses, and the law enforcement agency or agencies that conducted the investigation, of the date and place of the hearing. Information about victims, survivors of victims or witnesses receiving this notice are confidential and shall not be available to the offender. The Washington State Clemency and Pardons Board ("Board") assumes that the prosecuting attorney will meet this obligation.

Are hearings open to the public?

Yes, all hearings of the Board are open to the public.

Do I have the right to attend a hearing?

The State Legislature recognizes the significant concerns that many victims, survivors of victims, and witnesses of crimes have when offenders are considered for post-sentence release from State confinement. Therefore, it is the intent of the State Legislature to ensure that victims, survivors of victims and witnesses of crimes are afforded the opportunity to make a statement that will be considered prior to the granting of post-sentence release from confinement for any offender under the jurisdiction of the indeterminate sentence review board or its successor, or by the governor regarding an application for pardon or commutation of sentence. RCW 7.69.032(1).

Victims, survivors of victims and witnesses of crimes have the following rights:

With respect to victims and survivors of victims, to present a statement to the Board in person, via audio or videotape or other electronic means, or in writing, at any hearing conducted regarding an application for pardon or commutation of sentence. RCW 7.69.032(2)(b).

Who else can attend a hearing?

Other persons permitted to attend may include the petitioner's family and friends, attorneys, members of the media, or any interested party.

Can someone accompany me to the hearing?

Yes. Anyone may attend the Board hearings.

How do I know when a hearing will be held?

If you are a victim, you have the right to provide input during the deliberation process. You may call the Board's staff person to find out the status of a case at 360-586-0047 (desk) or 360-463-1128 (telework cell). If you already know the status of the case and wish to submit written comment, you may do so by sending your comments in writing to:

Office of the Attorney General
P.O. Box 40116
Olympia, WA 98504

Or send an Email to:

When will I be permitted to speak at a hearing?

The Board publishes an agenda listing all cases scheduled to be heard on that particular day. When the petitioner's case is called, those speaking in favor of the petitioner speak first, and those opposed providing testimony afterwards.

How will I know if an inmate is being released?

The Department of Corrections' Victim Services Program provides notification of the release of offenders from prison to those who enroll for this service. To enroll, go to Dept of Corrections Victim Services Program, or call toll-free (800) 322-2201.

What if I do not want to attend a hearing?

The decision to be present and/or speak at a Board meeting is entirely up to the individual. If you choose not to attend, you may submit a timely written or recorded statement, which will be considered by the Board.

What can happen at a hearing?

The Board makes recommendations to the governor on Petition A submissions for a pardon or commutation of a sentence. The Board is not limited to the relief requested by the petitioner. The Board's staff will prepare a brief written summary of each petition hearing and include the Board's recommendation to the governor to grant or deny the petition. The written summary will specify the type of relief recommended, if any, and it will be sent to the Office of the Governor promptly following each meeting.

When making its recommendation, the Board will consider the impact of the crime on the victims, survivors of victims, witnesses to the crime, and the community. The governor is not bound to follow the recommendation or take any action on the petition. However, the governor will take the recommendation under advisement when making the final decision.

All Board hearings are recorded by a court reporter, open to the public, and are typically broadcast on the state public affairs network, TVW. If you are interested, you may view the Board's prior hearings by visiting the TVW site

What occurs when the governor grants a pardon?

When a pardon is granted by the governor, the Governor's Office sends a copy of the pardon to the Washington State Patrol (WSP), which maintains certain criminal history records, and requests that they remove the conviction from the criminal history reporting that is available to the public: See Revised Code of Washington (RCW) 9.94A.030(11). However, the conviction remains on a separate criminal history available to law enforcement and others who are entitled to non-conviction data under RCW 10.97. The Governor's Office does ask the WSP to note the fact that a pardon has been granted on this non-public criminal record.

The pardon does not automatically remove the record of the conviction from the court files and does not grant legal authority to state that the party has never been convicted of a crime on an application for employment. You may, however, indicate that you have received a governor's pardon. Other remedies do allow you to state that you have never been convicted of a crime, such as the vacation of a criminal record pursuant to RCW 9.94A.640, which requires application to the court that entered the conviction. You may find the this information from Washington Courts to be of use.

If you receive a pardon from a juvenile conviction, RCW 13.50.050(14)(b) provides that "the proceedings in the matter upon which the pardon has been granted shall be treated as if they never occurred, and the subject of the records may reply accordingly to any inquiry about the events upon which the pardon was received."

For the pardon of an adult or a juvenile conviction, you may wish to consult an attorney regarding how this provision applies in particular circumstances, such as criminal history inquiries made by federal authorities or in other states. An attorney can advise you on whether your replies to inquiries in particular situations are governed by federal law or the laws of other states rather than by this provision of Washington law.

Restoration of firearms rights

If you are seeking to restore your firearm rights you should understand that there is a very complex mix of state and federal law relating to the issue of firearm ownership and possession. Multiple state and federal statutes relate to this issue, and they are subject to frequent change by state and federal legislation. Both the federal and Washington statutes are likely applicable to an applicant for executive clemency relating to these issues. Should gun ownership or possession be critical to your anticipated relief by the granting of a pardon, it is your obligation to explore and resolve any and all legal complexities (state and federal) through your own personal initiative and research. To date, the governor has rarely restored firearms rights. Due to the complexity of the issue, it may benefit you to consult an attorney. You may wish to contact the lawyer referral services of the Washington State Bar Association or the County Bar Association where you were convicted.

Why is the board staffed by the Attorney General's Office?

The Board has been established within the Office of the Governor pursuant to RCW 9.94A.880 and RCW 9.94A.885. RCW 9.94A.885(5) mandates that the Attorney General shall provide a staff as needed for the operation of the Board.

Records inquiry and public records requests

The Board has been established within the Office of the Governor by law under RCW 9.94A.880 and RCW 9.94A.885. The records of the Board are the records of the Governor's Office. All public records requests should be directed to the Office of the Governor by contacting:

Tricia Smith, Public Information & Records Officer
of the Governor
PO Box 40002 | Olympia, WA 98504-0002
(360) 902-0611