Frequently Asked Questions by Victims

In Washington state, certain rights are afforded victims and survivors of victims. These rights are listed in RCW 7.69.010 and in the Washington State Constitution, Article I, Section 35.

RCW 9.94A.885(3) provides that the prosecuting attorney shall make reasonable efforts to notify victims, survivors of victims, witnesses, and the law enforcement agency or agencies that conducted the investigation, of the date and place of the hearing. Information about victims, survivors of victims or witnesses receiving this notice are confidential and shall not be available to the offender. The Board assumes that the prosecuting attorney will meet this obligation.

Are hearings open to the public?

Yes, all hearings of the Clemency and Pardons Board are open to the public.

Do I have the right to attend a hearing?

The State Legislature recognizes the significant concerns that many victims, survivors of victims, and witnesses of crimes have when offenders are considered for postsentence release from State confinement. Therefore, it is the intent of the State Legislature to ensure that victims, survivors of victims and witnesses of crimes are afforded the opportunity to make a statement that will be considered prior to the granting of postsentence release from confinement for any offender under the jurisdiction of the indeterminate sentence review board or its successor, or by the governor regarding an application for pardon or commutation of sentence. RCW 7.69.032(1).

Victims, survivors of victims and witnesses of crimes have the following rights:

With respect to victims and survivors of victims, to present a statement to the clemency and pardons board in person, via audio or videotape or other electronic means, or in writing, at any hearing conducted regarding an application for pardon or commutation of sentence. RCW 7.69.032(2)(b).

Who else can attend a hearing?

Other persons permitted to attend may include the petitioner’s family and friends, attorneys, members of the media, or any interested party.

Can someone accompany me to the hearing?

Yes. Anyone may attend the Clemency and Pardons Board hearings.

How do I know when a hearing will be held?

If you are a victim, you have the right to provide input during the deliberation process. You may call the Board’s staff person to find out the status of a case at 360-586-0047. If you already know the status of the case and wish to submit written comment, you may do so by sending your comments in writing to:

Clemency and Pardons Board
Office of the Attorney General
P.O. Box 40116
Olympia, WA 98504

Or send an Email to: CPBoard@atg.wa.gov

When will I be permitted to speak at a hearing?

The Board publishes an agenda listing all cases scheduled to be heard on that particular day. When the petitioner’s case is called, those speaking in favor of the petitioner speak first, and those opposed providing testimony afterwards.

How will I know if an inmate is being released?

The Department of Corrections’ Victim Services Program provides notification of the release of offenders from prison to those who enroll for this service.  To enroll, go to http://www.doc.wa.gov/victims/enroll.asp, or call toll-free (800) 322-2201.

What if I do not want to attend a hearing?

The decision to be present and/or speak at a Clemency and Pardons Board meeting is entirely up to the individual. If you choose not to attend, you may submit a timely written or recorded statement, which will be considered by the Board.

What can happen at a hearing?

The Board makes recommendations to the Governor on Petition A submissions for a pardon or commutation of a sentence. The Board is not limited to the relief requested by the petitioner. The Board’s staff will prepare a brief written summary of each petition hearing and include the Board’s recommendation to the Governor to grant or deny the petition. The written summary will specify the type of relief recommended, if any, and it will be sent to the Office of the Governor promptly following each meeting.

When making its recommendation, the Board will consider the impact of the crime on the victims, survivors of victims, witnesses to the crime, and the community. The Governor is not bound to follow the recommendation or take any action on the petition. However, the Governor will take the recommendation under advisement when making the final decision.