Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles
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.
The membership of the board as of 27 July 2011 is as follows:
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