Criminal Sentence Commutations & The Arizona Board of Executive Clemency

The Arizona Board of Executive Clemency was created in 1994 as part of the Arizona Truth-in-Sentencing Act. The following information is from the Arizona Board of Executive Clemency website on how to obtain a commutation of sentence: (Find the original article source at


“A commutation of sentence is a change or modification of a sentence imposed by the court. The Governor may only grant a commutation of sentence upon recommendation of the Board (A.R.S. §31-402). Applications for a Commutation are available on this website in the “Forms” section. Completed applications should be sent to the Department of Corrections, Time Comp Division, 1601 West Jefferson Street, Phoenix, Arizona 85007. Applications sent directly to the Board of Executive Clemency will be returned to the originator. Only those applications certified as eligible by DOC will be forwarded to the Board for consideration and scheduling.

Phase I Commutation Hearing

The Phase I Hearing is an in-absentia hearing at the Board office. The Board will vote to either deny further action because the sentence imposed at the time of sentencing was not determined to be excessive or pass the application to a Phase II hearing. Members of the public, victims, inmate’s family and supporters, etc. are permitted to provide testimony regarding the sentence imposed by the judge at the time of sentencing to the Board at this hearing. The order of hearings, on the scheduled hearing day, is set by the panel chairperson.

Phase II Commutation Hearing

A Phase II Commutation Hearing is a hearing normally conducted with the inmate present via telephone or video conferencing. In some cases a Phase II Hearing may be conducted at a state institution with the inmate in attendance. The Board will vote to either deny further action on the Commutation Request or will recommend a reduction of sentence to the Governor. The Governor cannot consider a Commutation of Sentence without a recommendation from the Board. If the Board does recommend a reduction in sentence and the vote of the Board is unanimous the Governor must make a determination on the Board’s recommendation within 90 days. If the Board recommends a reduction in sentence but the vote of the Board is not unanimous then the Governor will make the final decision on the Commutation Request at their convenience. The time of a scheduled hearing, on the scheduled hearing day, is determined in cooperation with the Department of Corrections and is based on their security concerns.”

Lawyer speaking about the criminal in orange jumpsuit

Unfortunately, the probability that a prisoner will be granted a commutation of sentence is very low according to “No Indeterminate Sentencing without Parole” by Kevin Morrow and Katherine Puzauskas:

“Statistics provided by Arizona Board of Clemency show that between 2004 and 2016 the Board heard an average of 594.9 clemency hearings per year, recommended an average of 48.2 prisoners a year to the governor who granted clemency to an average of 6.7, or 1.5% of all applicants. . .”

If you or a loved one is facing charges where “life with a chance of release” is a possibility, you need an experienced defense attorney. The Law Offices of Gary L. Rohlwing has over three decades of experience. Call him today for a free initial consultation. You can also learn more about Gary Rohlwing here.

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