The Territorial Board of Pardons was created in 1885 and was renamed the Board of Pardons and Parole in 1913 (Laws 1885, Chapter 76 and 1913 Penal Code, §§1301 through 1307). Current statutory authority is found in A.R.S.§§31-401 et seq.
The Board conducts parole hearings for inmates who have committed offenses prior to January 1994. Hearings include consideration for home arrest, work furlough, parole release, revocation of parole and discharge from parole supervision. The Board is also authorized to recommend clemency actions to the Governor.
Parole is a period of conditional supervised release outside of prison before an entire prison sentence has been completed. The Board makes parole decisions only for offenses committed before January 1, 1994. Arizona’s truth-in-sentencing laws abolished parole for offenses committed after that date and the Department of Corrections has responsibility for releasing eligible inmates to community supervision.
During Territorial times, the Board consisted of the Governor of the Territory, the Attorney General and the Chairman of the Board of Prison Commissioners. In 1913, the composition of the Board changed to the Superintendent of Public Instruction, the Attorney General and a citizen member.
In 1966, the number of members increased from three to five, appointed by the Governor to five year terms (Laws 1966, Chapter 21).
Laws 1968, Chapter 198 established the State Department of Corrections and reorganized the Board of Pardons and Paroles, changing the number of members from five to three, appointed by the Governor to three-year terms.
In 1978, the number of members increased to five and members were appointed to five-year terms (Laws 1978, Chapter 164).
Laws 1982, Chapter 254 required the Board to provide a notice to the victim (or the victim’s family) when considering commutation or parole. The victim was also notified of their opportunity to provide a written opinion concerning release of the prisoner. The measure also authorized the Board to hire hearing officers.
In 1984 Governor Babbitt called the Legislature into special session to consider management, financing, programs and facilities of the Arizona criminal justice and correctional systems. Legislation adopted during the special session modified work furlough decisions made by the Board and changed the number of members from five to seven (Laws 1984, First Special Session, Chapter 8).
Laws 1989, Chapter 300 established a selection committee to fill vacancies on the Board and allowed the Board to hire an executive director.
Laws 1990, Chapter 127 required members of the Board to take a four-week class on Board duties and activities related to statutory requirements and decision-making.
In 1993, truth in sentencing laws abolished discretionary release by a parole board for any offense committed after 1993 and required offenders to serve at least 85 percent of their sentence before becoming eligible for community supervision. Previous law required a prisoner to serve at least 67 to 75 percent of the sentence, depending on the offense. Truth in sentencing was adopted to promote accountability in sentencing and require offenders to serve nearly all their sentence. Laws 1993, Chapter 255 revised the criminal code and required a period of community supervision to run consecutively to a term of imprisonment. The measure addressed parole, work furlough, home arrest, earned release credits and other early release programs.(See Arizona Auditor General report on the Arizona Board of Executive Clemency, Report No. 14-105.)
In 1997, the number of members changed from seven to five, effective January 1, 1998 (Laws 1997, Chapter 134).
Laws 2016, Chapter 143 requires Board members to serve on a full-time basis, at a salary determined by the Department of Administration.
Laws 2019, Chapter 298 authorizes the Board to adopt administrative rules relating to the recertification process used to determine eligibility for parole. The measure also requires the board to draft proposed rules by January 1,2020 that allow the board to extend the length of time between parole recertification hearings to more than one year. Specific factors that must be included in the rules are outlined and the rules must be developed with input from stakeholders.
- A.R.S.§§31-401 et seq.
- Session Laws
- Laws 1885, Chapter 76
- Laws 1966, Chapter 21
- Laws 1968, Chapter 198
- Laws 1978, Chapter 164
- Laws 1982, Chapter 254
- Laws 1984, Chapter 8, 1st Special Session
- Laws 1989, Chapter 300
- Laws 1990, Chapter 127
- Laws 1993, Chapter 255
- Laws 1997, Chapter 134
- Laws 2016, Chapter 143
- Laws 2019, Chapter 298
Penal Code 1913
Arizona Auditor General Performance Audit and Sunset Review, 2014- No. 14-105
Master List of State Programs
Board of Executive Clemency website
Related Collections at Arizona State Archives
- RG 006 – Secretary of the Territory, 1863 – 1922
- RG 031 – Department of Corrections, 1875 –
- RG 085 – Arizona State Prison, 1875 – 1945
- RG 094 – Board of Prison Commissioners, 1875 – 1903
- RG 201 – Arizona Board of Executive Clemency, 1992 - 2014