Parole, Clemency, Corrections, and Pardons, Oh My! – Part One

Posted by: William Cassara On: December 16th, 2011

Some of the most popular questions we receive relate to military parole, clemency, corrections, and pardons. While not exhaustive, the following summaries should help to shed light on these crucial areas of military law. Starting with parole, this entry will then take a close look at clemency, corrections, and pardons. Our office is able to help with these issues, so please feel free to give us a call toll-free at (888) 288-3347.

Parole is defined as the conditional release of an accused service member from confinement, with each branch having its own eligibility criteria. Applicants eligible for parole must in the first place submit a parole plan to their branch's Clemency and Parole Board. The parole plan must, at a minimum, provide:

  • Proof of a stable residence; and
  • Evidence that the prisoner has either definite employment, an offer of effective assistance to obtain employment, or acceptance into a genuine educational or vocational program.

In general, the Clemency and Parole Board considers the following factors:

  • Post-trial progress reports;
  • Recommendations of the legal officer and/or military judge;
  • Psychological evaluations;
  • The circumstances and nature of the offense;
  • The offender's military and civilian background;
  • A considerable post-conviction rehabilitation and/or educational effort;
  • Statements made by the victim(s); and
  • Any restitution made to the victim(s).

Clemency is granted by either the court-martial convening authority or a Clemency and Parole Board. Clemency may result in the remission, modification, or suspension of the whole or any part of a service member's court-martial sentence. The accused service member must submit a request for clemency following the announcement of the sentence (but prior to the convening authority taking final action) in order to obtain clemency from the convening authority. According to the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), Service Secretaries may also grant clemency on unexecuted portions of a court-martial sentence. For the most part, branch Clemency and Parole Boards exercise these clemency powers.

Each Clemency and Parole Board is made up of five senior-level officers and provides recommendations and advice to the concerned Service Secretary. An automatic clemency review is available to an accused service member, but is dependent upon the length of confinement and branch of service. A clemency review can be waived.

More to come next week!

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