The Prisoner Review Board looks for certain things in a petition for executive clemency. The Guidelines for Executive Clemency give more detailed information on what you must include. You should read the guidelines before you start your petition. Your entire petition must be typed. The Prisoner Review Board provides a form that can be downloaded and printed. This form would not be suitable if you have more than one case for which you are seeking clemency.
When completing your petition, remember the following:
- Be honest in your petition;
- If necessary, attach extra typed sheets;
- Include your current mailing address in the petition, not just on the envelope; and
- Make sure to review the Guidelines for Executive Clemency again to make sure you didn't forget anything.
Executive clemency petition has 6 parts.
Your detailed petition must include:
- Required general information: You must include your name, address, phone number, date and place of birth; social security number; any other names you have used; your state prison number (if you have been to the Illinois Department of Corrections); military discharge date and status (if applicable); whether you have asked for clemency before. If any of these things do not apply, you must say so. For example, “I do not have a state prisoner number, as I was never in the Illinois Department of Corrections.”
- Convictions you are trying to get pardoned. Give detailed information about all of your criminal convictions. For each conviction you are trying to get pardoned you must include:
- The case number, offense, and date of arrest; the county of conviction and sentencing judge; whether you had a bench or jury trial; your plea; the date you were convicted and your sentence; your discharge date. The date of discharge is the date you were either terminated from probation or the date you were discharged from parole; status of any appeals.
- You must also include a detailed account of the offense. Include where you were, if any other people were involved, why the offense happened or other motivating factors; lessons you have learned and other additional circumstances
- If you do not have any of the above information, you can get it by contacting the Clerk’s Office where you were convicted. You should get a court disposition from that Clerk’s Office. A court disposition will include all the required information.
- Your complete criminal history.
- It is crucial to list every incident in your criminal history. The State’s Attorney’s Office will do a state and a federal background check on you. If you don't include everything, it will hurt your chances of getting clemency.
- Get your RAP sheet from the Chicago Police Department or the Illinois State Police, if your case happened outside of Chicago. You will need to have your fingerprints taken.
- Do a careful review of your criminal record to make sure you include a detailed description of each arrest including case number, charge, county of arrest, disposition, and termination date if you received supervision or probation. Learn more about Where to find your criminal records.
- Give information about any other times for which you have asked for clemency and include any court orders sealing a part of your criminal record, and arrests and convictions in other states
- List every time you were taken to a police station and questioned, even if you were released and not charged
- You do not have to include traffic violations, but you should include more serious offenses, like driving under the influence.
- Personal life history. Give a good description of your life, education and job history. Cover everything from the day you were born until the day you are writing the petition. This might seem like a lot, but the only thing the Governor and Prison Review Board know about you is your criminal record. Try to show positive changes in your life. Include the following information in this section:
- Supporting documents, such as a copy of your military discharge paper (DD 214), certificates, diplomas, treatment papers, court records, or letters of recommendation.
- Information on how you overcame struggles and how you are trying to improve your life through school or volunteering.
- Your reasons for asking for clemency. Be specific about how a pardon will improve your life and the lives of the people you are responsible for. Talk about how your criminal record has kept you from doing things like renting an apartment or getting a job. Write about the places you have applied and your qualifications. Discuss all the positive reasons why you deserve clemency.
- State the type of clemency you are asking for and ask for a public hearing. There are four types clemency:
- Pardon - This is for a conviction where you already served a sentence. Also, include a request to expunge the record.
- Expungement - When you write your petition you also need to ask for permission to file an expungement. After clemency is granted, you'll have to file a petition for expungement in the court where the conviction occurred. The court does not have to expunge your record just because the governor gave you a pardon.
- If you would like a public hearing request one in this last section. It is always a good idea to request a public hearing. Having a public hearing will let the Prisoner Review Board put a face and person to your petition.
It is helpful to include letters of support from family, friends, co-workers, or church members with your petition. The letter should be typed if possible, in paragraph form. The letter should include:
- Who the person is and what they do for a living
- How does this person know you?
- How long has the person known you?
- How often does this person see you?
- What kind of activities do you do together?
- How have you grown and changed since this person first met you?
- How have you made a positive impact on this person’s life?
- Examples of how you are a good person
- Examples of your good character
The letter should be signed and include a phone number or e-mail address.
Each section must be labeled with the section title, for example: "Personal Life History." Make sure all the information is complete. An incomplete form can slow down the executive clemency process, or your petition could be thrown out.
Perjury statement in a executive clemency petition
At the end of the petition you must type this line:
- "I declare under penalty of perjury that all assertions made within this petition are complete, truthful, and accurate."
Make sure to attach sign the perjury statement and get it notarized. Remember that perjury is a felony.
Note: The information above only applies to clemency for state crimes. For information on clemency for federal crimes, visit the US Pardon Attorney's website.
Updated: June 2017