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Press Release

Fact Sheet: Justice Department Improvements to the Clemency Process

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs

The Justice Department is entrusted with the important responsibility of receiving and reviewing applications for executive clemency and making recommendations to the President in support of his exercise of the constitutional clemency power. In fulfilling this responsibility, the department is committed to improving the clemency application process to make it more transparent, accessible and user-friendly. The department is taking a series of actions to reform and streamline the clemency application process. 

Transparency & Accessibility

  • Form Simplification: The Justice Department is updating all of its clemency forms, including web forms, to make them more user-friendly, streamlined and accessible to diverse populations. The improved and simplified application for commutation of sentence is now available here. The revised pardon application form is currently open for public comment.
  • Language Access: The Justice Department has translated its revised application forms and informational materials into Spanish and is in the process of making its forms available in other languages as well.
  • Partnering with Federal Bureau of Prisons (FBOP): The Office of the Pardon Attorney is working closely with the FBOP to assist incarcerated individuals with the clemency process, including by launching a series of educational seminars for staff and individuals in custody. In 2023, the Office met with over 1,800 people in FBOP facilities to provide information about applying for clemency. Additional sessions are scheduled in 2024.


  • Reducing Processing Times: The Justice Department is taking steps, including providing additional staffing and technical support for the Office of the Pardon Attorney, to reduce the processing times to ensure that clemency petitioners receive answers in a timely fashion.
  • Closing Long-Pending Petitions: The current Administration inherited an unprecedented backlog of clemency petitions. Soon, the Justice Department will begin issuing letters to petitioners that have not been granted clemency in order to deliver closure to those waiting for answers they deserve. Those receiving letters are welcome to submit new petitions.

Public Engagement

  • Education and Outreach: The department is working to educate the public about how to submit a clemency application in order to demystify the process and help ensure broader and more equitable access.
  • Listening Sessions: The department continues to engage with diverse external stakeholders to ensure that it is responsive to the needs of clemency petitioners and the public.
Updated December 28, 2023

Press Release Number: 23-1479