Pardon applications without needing presidential involvement is a right each state enjoys, but one that is denied in D.C.

Add to the list of indignities suffered by District residents due to not being a state, Mayor Muriel Bower thinks the time has come that the power to commute sentences be granted here.   

Bower is undertaking the application process for letters of recommendation to the District of Columbia Clemency Board. Saying it’s a step toward D.C. statehood, she said, “In so many critical areas, the District of Columbia functions as a state, but one key element of statehood is that we lack the ability to grant pardons or commute sentences – a power that every state’s governor has. I look forward to the day when I can issue a pardon or commute a sentence without having to ask the President.”

The Clemency Board considers applications from people convicted of D.C. Code offenses, and if in agreement that clemency is warranted, they help the applicant receive a pardon or commutation. The board also recommends applicants to the President of the United States for consideration.

Clemency Board Chairman Dr. Patrick Canavan says they want more people to apply, “The Clemency Board is eager to hear from persons seeking clemency – especially persons in priority categories, such as those who were convicted and sentenced for offenses under a statutory scheme where the penalties have been reduced since they were convicted.” 

The Clemency Board’s website details the process. 

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