Councilors urge Baker to consider pardons, commutations

Governor's Councilor Robert Jubinville used a rare council appearance by Gov. Charlie Baker on Wednesday to ask him for an update about possible recommendations for pardons and commutations.

"Not today," Baker told Jubinville, who told the governor he would check back in with him on it in the future.

Councilor Marilyn Devaney said she also hoped Baker would make commutation and pardon recommendations, noting the role such measures can play in turning around the lives of individuals who have committed crimes. She said councilors have "drawers and drawers" full of pardon and commutation materials, including some associated with people who have died.

"I would like to put in a plug too for pardons," said Devaney, who said the council had received "not enough" pardon recommendations from governors during her 18 years on the council.

After the meeting, Jubinville told the State House News Service that Southern states have been using pardons and commutations to reduce prison populations. The councilor said he's received an "uptick" in interest among people seeking pardons and commutations, a trend that he attributed to the lack of recommendations from governors in recent years.

According to the Massachusetts Trial Court Law Libraries, a pardon is an act forgiving the petitioner for the crime and sealing all records related to the crime. A commutation reduces a petitioner's sentence or punishment.

– Michael P. Norton/SHNS