Review: Governor Parson's Actions on Clemency Application Backlog

 — Governor Mike Parson has committed to working diligently to address the backlog of clemency applications he inherited when he took office. To date, Governor Parson has granted 168 pardons, 13 commutations, and denied 1,134 requests for clemency. 

Governor Parson is on pace to review and render decisions on more clemency applications in his first four years in office than any Missouri Governor in the last 40 years. As of September 2021, there are 2,376 pending clemency applications, down from more than 3,500 when Governor Parson assumed office on June 1, 2018. 

“When I became Governor, we pledged to do things differently than they had been done before, and that included addressing the backlog of more than 3,500 clemency applications sitting in the Governor's Office," Governor Parson said. "I directed my staff to begin reviewing clemency files and getting cases to my desk for a decision as timely as possible. Whether clemency is granted or denied, we are committed to at the very least providing answers to as many individuals that we feasibly can.” 

In only three years as Missouri's 57th Governor, Governor Parson has already granted clemency to more individuals than any other Missouri Governor in the last 40 years. For a historical perspective, below is a list of previous Governors' actions on clemency applications.

  • Governor Bond (1981-1985): granted 74 clemency applications and denied 436.
  • Governor Ashcroft (1985-1993): granted 39 clemency applications and denied 985.
  • Governor Carnahan (1993-2000): granted 47 clemency applications and denied 607.
  • Governor Wilson (2001): granted 46 clemency applications and denied 347. 
  • Governor Holden (2001-2005): granted 45 clemency applications and denied 847.
  • Governor Blunt (2005-2009): granted 17 clemency applications and denied 1869.
  • Governor Nixon (2009-2017): granted 110 clemency applications and denied 212.
  • Governor Greitens (2017-2018): granted 10 clemency applications and denied 283.

“Clemency is an act of mercy for individuals who have redeemed themselves and demonstrated a change of lifestyle," Governor Parson said. "We do not take clemency decisions lightly, and we will always practice our due diligence and conduct thorough reviews to ensure we are making the right calls as we continue our efforts to give closure to these individuals who have waited too long."

Pursuant to state statute, clemency applications should be made to the Missouri Parole Board that conducts an investigation and then sends the file to the Governor’s Office for final review and a decision. Governor’s Office staff continues to process the backlog of pending applications in order to fulfill the Governor’s intention of providing a decision to clemency applicants.