Texas Execution Information Center
Background

Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles

The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles (home page) is the body responsible for making executive clemency recommendations to the governor. While the Board has responsibility over all criminal convictions in the state, it is their responsibility over death penalty cases that is of interest here.

Board Procedures
Executive clemency decisions in death penalty cases come in three forms: pardon, commutation of sentence, and reprieve. By Board rules, certain actions require the input of the applicant's three trial officials: the sentencing judge, district attorney, and sherrif.

In a pardon, the prisoner is released from prison (if there are no other convictions) and his citizenship rights are partially or fully restored. This is similar to when an appeals court overturns a conviction, with two differences: the state cannot appeal an executive clemency decision, and the defendant will, in most cases, still show a criminal conviction on his record. Only an "innocence pardon" removes the crime from the individual's record. Innocence pardons are rare and are usually considered only with either the approval of at least two of the applicant's trial officials, or a finding of innocence by a court of law.

In sentence commutations, the board reduces the penalty assessed by the court. In death penalty cases, this usually means changing the death sentence to a sentence of life in prison. Commutations of sentence must be supported by a majority of the applicant's trial officials.

The board may also recommend a reprieve, in which case the execution may not be carried out during the specified time limit. After the reprieve time is expired, the state may execute the prisoner, unless further court or executive clemency action has been taken.

Board decisions are made by majority vote. In some cases, prisoners make more than one request. For example, some prisoners have requested pardon, commutation of sentence, and reprieve. In such cases, the board takes separate votes on each action.

Clemency recommendations passed by a majority vote go to the governor. If the governor accepts the board's recommendation, clemency is granted. If the governor rejects the board's recommendation, clemency is not granted. If the board recommends a reprieve, the governor may grant reprieve for a term not longer than the board recommends.

Note that the governor can only grant clemency upon a favorable recommendation from the Board of Pardons and Paroles. Without such a recommendation, the governor cannot do anything except grant a one-time, 30-day stay of execution.

Board Membership
Beginning in 2004, the Board of Pardons and Paroles has 7 seats. (There were previously 18 seats. The Texas Legislature reorganized the Board of Pardons and Paroles in 2003.)

The membership of the board as of 27 July 2011 is as follows:

NameFromAppointedTerm Expires
Corinth DavisSugarland2006 (Perry)2013
Juanita M. GonzalezRound Rock1997 (Bush)
2004 (Perry)
2009 (Perry)
2015
David G. GutierrezGatesville2009 (Perry)2015
James W. LaFaversAmarillo2011 (Perry)2017
Thomas A. LeeperHuntsville2009 (Perry)2013
Rissie OwensHuntsville1997 (Bush)
2004 (Perry)
2009 (Perry)
Chair, 2003-
2015
Michelle SkyrmrePalestine2011 (Perry)2017

Past members:
NameFromAppointedEnded
Jose AlisedaBeeville2004 (Perry)2009
Charles AycockFarwell2004 (Perry)
2005 (Perry)
2011
Paddy BurwellWesthoff1999 (Bush)2004
LaFayette CollinsHuntsville1999 (Bush)
2004 (Perry)
2005
Jackie DeNoyellesFlint2005 (Perry)2011
Roy A. 'Tony' GarciaPalestine2001 (Perry)2004
Daniel R. 'Dan' GuerraAustin2001 (Perry)2004
James Paul Kiel Jr.Tyler1999 (Bush)2004
Filiberto 'Bert' ReynaWaco1999 (Bush)2004
Brendolyn Rogers-JohnsonDuncanville1995 (Bush)
2001 (Perry)
2004
Lynn RuzickaHouston2001 (Perry)2004
Lucinda 'Cindy' SimonsHereford1999 (Bush)2004
Charles C. 'Chuck' SpeierHuntsville2002 (Perry)2004
James E. 'Jim' BushHuntsville1995 (Bush)
2001 (Perry)
2003
Lynn F. BrownLorena1997 (Bush)2003
Linda GarciaLaPorte1999 (Bush)
2004 (Perry)
2007
Gerald GarrettAustin1999 (Bush, Chairman)
2001 (Perry, Chairman)
2003
Alvin ShawAustin1997 (Bush)2003
Charles A. ShipmanWitchita Falls1997 (Bush)2003
Wayne ScottHuntsville2001 (Perry)2002
Daniel LangHouston1995 (Bush)2001
Thomas W. MossAmarillo1995 (Bush)2001
Cynthia TaussLeague City1995 (Bush)2001
Sandie WalkerBryan1997 (Bush)1999

Copyright 2002-2014 by David Carson. Unauthorized publication, either printed or electronic, is prohibited. This includes posting to Usenet, blogs, and message boards.