State Government

No pardons from guv – yet

By Guy Page

Under Vermont law, governors may issue pardons. Gov. Phil Scott has a page on his website dedicated to applying for pardons. Scott has yet to pardon anyone during his four years in office. But, he said at a press conference this Tuesday, he’s thinking about it.

Vermont Daily asked: “Governor Scott – your office has the power to pardon people convicted of crimes – are you considering any pardons and if so what are the criteria?”

“There is a process,” Scott said. “It’s very lengthy. It involves the parole board. I have not pardoned anyone [in four years in office]. I have a fairly high bar on that. But I think about some who have applied….I am thinking about moving ahead on some of those.”

A document on the governor’s website provides insight into his pardon criteria:

The granting of a pardon is an extraordinary act of clemency, solely within the discretion of the Governor in accordance with Chapter II, Section 20 of the Vermont Constitution. The Governor’s determination is not subject to appeal. If an application falls generally within the Guidelines set forth below, it will be referred to the State of Vermont Department of Corrections and the Parole Board for investigation and recommendation.

  1. TIME: A substantial period of time must have elapsed since the date of conviction. Generally, a ten-year time period for a felony conviction and a five- year period of time for a misdemeanor conviction is required. A pardon will not be considered for a person who is currently incarcerated or under sentence except in very unusual circumstances where there is independent evidence of a gross miscarriage of justice not reviewable through the courts.
  2. SOCIAL BEHAVIOR SINCE CONVICTION: The applicant’s behavior since conviction must have been exemplary. A significant or outstanding contribution to family and community should be demonstrated.
  3. EMPLOYMENT: It should be demonstrated that the pardon will remove an obstacle to employment and will enable the applicant to meet family obligations.
  4. BENEFIT TO SOCIETY IF PARDONED: It should be demonstrated that the pardon will result in a contribution to society, not just personal gain or comfort.

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