Law Ensures Pardon Applications Are Acted On; Preserves Governor’s Pardon Power

(MADISON) Senator Lena C. Taylor (D-Milwaukee) today released a new legislative proposal to create an Independent Pardon Council in Wisconsin.  The bill will establish a council of nine reserve judges who receive applications for pardon, review applications, and provide a recommendation to the Governor for approving or denying a pardon.  The power to pardon in Wisconsin rests exclusively with the Governor under the Constitution; however the pardon application process is regulated by law.  The bill will ensure that every person who applies for a pardon in Wisconsin receives a recommendation for or against pardon when their application is submitted to the Governor for a final decision.

“Governor Walker’s decision to completely ignore the pardon applications of Wisconsin citizens is just plain wrong.  There are cases where a pardon is appropriate and justified.  Every citizen deserves to know that their application is being reviewed and the facts of their cases and rehabilitation are under scrutiny as well as the impact of their crimes on victims.  For a Governor to ignore a citizen’s petition such as this violates the basic tenant of responsive government.  This bill will ensure that citizens are heard and their applications acted on.”  Senator Taylor explained.

Nine reserve judges, appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Senate, will comprise the council.  The law would require the council to meet at least quarterly and to review and make recommendation on each application for pardon it receives.  The council can establish three member panels to hear testimony on applications and review the facts.  A decision of a three-member panel will be the recommendation of the council.  The council members will not be paid for their service to the state in reviewing pardons.

“This new council is a huge step to ensuring that applications are reviewed which they are not now.  With trained judges studying the merits of each application, pertinent facts and an informed recommendation can be made to the Governor.  Ultimately, the Governor still maintains the power to pardon or not.  This bill should be a bipartisan effort to ensure citizens are heard in this process.” Taylor concluded.

The bill was circulated to the Wisconsin Legislature today by Senator Taylor.  Legislators have been asked to add their name as cosponsors of the bill by the end of next week.