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    FAQ: Colorado Governor’s Power for a Commutation of Sentence

    by Colorado Criminal Defense Lawyer – H. Michael Steinberg – Governor’s Commutation of Sentence.

    Executive Clemency: Commutation of Sentence
    Colorado Constitution, Article IV, Section 7: “The governor shall have the power to grant reprieves, commutations and pardons after conviction for all offenses except treason, and except in case of impeachment, subject to such regulations as may be prescribed by law relative to the manner of applying for pardons, but he shall in every case where he may exercise this power, send to the general assembly at its first session thereafter, a transcript of the petition, all proceedings, and reasons for his action.”

    Eligibility Restrictions:

    A) The inmate must be housed in a facility of confinement which includes prisons, jails, community placement, private/public contract facilities and out-of state facilities.
    B) Currently not on parole or within 15 months of parole eligibility.
    C) Not participating in Intensive Supervision Program (ISP).

    Time Eligibility
    A) Life Sentences: Inmates serving a single life sentence must have served 1/3 of their sentence to parole eligibility or ten full years, whichever is less.
    B) Life Sentence with Consecutive Sentence(s): Inmates serving a life sentence with consecutive sentences which have been adjusted by the Department of Corrections or legislative action must serve ten full years.
    C) Inmates serving all other sentences other than those described above must serve 1/3 of their actual sentence or ten calendar years, whichever is less.

    Disqualifying Conduct While Confined
    A) Any Code of Penal Discipline Class 1 or Class II violation conviction(s) within a two year period prior to the application will disqualify inmates from commutation eligibility.
    B) Inmates housed in Administrative Segregation are not eligible for commutation consideration.

    Crimes Ineligible for Commutation
    Inmates who have committed a violent crime against a peace officer are not eligible (i.e. assault on a peace officer, riot, etc.).

    Probation/Parole Status Ineligibility
    A) If the inmate was on probation at the time the crime being proposed for commutation was committed, the inmate is not eligible for commutation consideration.
    B) Parole violators who have been charged/convicted with a new crime are not eligible to apply for commutation for the sentence.
    C) Those charged/convicted of new crime(s) while on parole are eligible to apply for commutation as to the new sentence only; provided they meet the current eligibility criteria.

    Pending Criminal Charges/Sentences
    A) Inmates with unresolved criminal charges are not eligible for commutation consideration.
    B) Those with pending sentences may apply for commutation.

    A) The inmate must have no pending appeals.
    B) All other judicial remedies must be exhausted prior to being eligible for clemency review.

    Waiver of Ineligibility Criteria
    The Governor and the Department of Corrections Director may grant a waiver of these criteria in cases involving medical emergency or for compelling cases that demonstrate:
    A) Catastrophic medical and/or mental health problems.
    B) Extremely unique situations (i.e. heroism, severe sentence disparity or rehabilitation).

    Applicants may reapply after four years from receipt of official notification of denial from the Governor or the Governor’s Clemency Coordinator. Cases not reviewed or tabled are terminated within one year of date of application.
    Application Process: Applications are available from an inmate’s Case Manager or by contacting:

    Colorado Governor’s
    Executive Chambers
    136 State Capitol
    Denver, CO 80203-1792
    Tel: (303) 866-2471

    An application for commutation of sentence is initiated by the inmate with the assistance of the Department of Corrections’ Case Managers. Applicants must complete Executive Clemency Advisory Board (ECAB) Application Eligibility Criteria for Commutation of Sentence & Character Certificate.

    Attachments to be included with application:

    • A personal letter to the acting Governor stating specific reasons/circumstances for requesting clemency.
    • A recent Performance Review Summary (PRS); if older than 90 days, a new PRS should be submitted.
    • The Admission Data Summary (ADS) and Diagnostic Summary completed upon DOC admission.
    • Psychological/psychiatric reports which include diagnostic information from clinical staff or contractors.
    • Reports of disciplinary actions and sanctions; including investigative reports if applicable.
    • The most recent time computation.
    • Current FBI record of arrest.
    • Detainers/notifications requests, or other pertinent law enforcement communications.
    • Pre-sentence investigation report and/or offense report.
    • Reports of adjustment to community placement if applicable.
    • If serious medical/mental health problems exist, a current report containing the diagnosis, prognosis, and recommendations.
    • Any additional documents, references, or exhibits that would assist the Governor in making an informed decision.

    Copies of the completed application are sent to the sentencing judge and district attorney in the judicial district where the conviction took place. Colorado law requires that ECAB solicit the comments of the appropriate judge and the district attorney. ECAB also makes every attempt to contact any victims associated with the crime.

    Clemency applications are routinely reviewed by ECAB for recommendation. The Governor has final discretion to grant, refuse or table all clemency applications.

    An application may take six months to a year to process. The inmate’s Case Manager will process the prisoner’s application with the assistance of the Department of Corrections Offender Services. The Governor’s Clemency Coordinator will notify the prisoner of the Governor’s final decision.

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    H. Michael Steinberg Esq.
    Attorney and Counselor at Law
    The Colorado Criminal Defense Law Firm of H. Michael Steinberg
    A Denver, Colorado Lawyer Focused Exclusively On
    Colorado Criminal Law For Over 40 Years.
    The Edward Building
    8400 East Prentice Ave, Penthouse 1500
    Greenwood Village, Colorado, 80111
    E-Mail:  [email protected]
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