Starting in May 2020, the ACLU of Kansas began filing clemency applications for early release on behalf of individuals incarcerated in the Kansas Department of Corrections’ overcrowded and ill-equipped facilities amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. The project evolved over the course of the year and shifted towards reimagining how governors use their executive authority to correct the ongoing injustices in our criminal legal system as broad reform can be so slow.
While we are no longer taking new clients for the Clemency Project, we have developed this toolkit to help impacted individuals advocate for themselves or family members, including filing for an application for early release through executive clemency on their own behalf. We will continue to push for a paradigm shift in which redemption is the standard. Everyone is more than their worst mistake.
Learn more about this process, under Clemency: Explained
Find out how to file for clemency for yourself or a loved one and see examples, under Filing for Clemency: A Toolkit.
If you have a loved one who is incarcerated and they would like to receive this toolkit, please have them write and request a clemency toolkit at: ACLU of Kansas; P.O. Box 917; Mission, KS 66201.
What is Clemency?
In Kansas, executive clemency is early release granted by the Governor. The process is governed by K.S.A. § 22-3701. There is no significant distinction between “clemency” and a “pardon.” A clemency application is different from an appeal, which goes through the courts. Receiving clemency does not remove the underlying convictions from an individual’s record.
What is the process for applying for clemency?
To apply for clemency, an individual must do the following, using documents from IMPP 23-101A :
1. Provide notice to the county judge and prosecutor within any county of convictions.
2. Provide notice to the public through a publication (e.g., a newspaper) in the county.
3. Complete the application with reasons for seeking clemency, with detailed information regarding release plans and the person’s conduct and adjustment since conviction.
4. Submit the application to the Kansas Prisoner Review Board, which then has 120 days to review before sending the application to the Governor for a decision.
What should I expect after filing for clemency?
After the Prisoner Review Board receives an application for clemency, the Board has 120 days to finalize its review before sending the application to the Governor’s office for the final decision. There is no time limit or requirement for the governor to make a decision on an application for executive clemency.
Do I need a lawyer or the ACLU of Kansas in order to file for clemency?
No. You do not need legal representation to file an application for executive clemency. You may file for clemency yourself by obtaining all of the relevant paperwork and further details in IMPP-23-101A through your Unit Team Manager. Or, you can have a loved one file on your behalf using the same documents.
Why did the ACLU of Kansas make this document?
We know that Kansas incarcerates too many people, often with some of the harshest sentences in the country. Executive clemency provides an opportunity to correct injustice in the law and/or demonstrate that continued incarceration of a person is not within the state’s interest. We want everyone to be aware of this process and how to advocate for themselves when they believe they are deserving of early release.
Please see Clemency: Explained above and ensure you understand what clemency is before filing. All clemency paperwork can be found in the Kansas Department of Corrections’ IMPP 11-1110. Please be sure to refer to our included Example Clemency Application as you complete the below steps.
1) Complete Attachment A – Application for Executive Clemency (page 5 of IMPP 11-1110), including the highest court decision on any appeals or other motions filed.
2) Complete a narrative of Exhibit A - Reasons for Seeking Clemency as shown in the EXAMPLE. Be sure to discuss:
- Achievements while incarcerated, including programs completed, jobs worked, and other hobbies;
- Release plans, including housing, family or friend support, treatment plans, and any prospective employment opportunities.
3) Complete Attachment B – Notice of Clemency Application Sentencing Form (page 6 of IMPP 11-1110). You must fill out 2 copies of this form per county in which the applicant has active charges, one copy each for the judge and prosecutor. Repeat for every county there are active charges. Send each completed form directly to the respective judge and prosecutor and include a copy of the Exhibit A – Reasons for Seeking Clemency. We suggest keeping additional copies of these forms for your final submitted clemency packet.
The judge should be the original sentencing judge or the judge currently assigned to the same division. If current active charges are from more than one division of the court and had different sentencing judges, Attachment B should be completed and sent to the Chief Judge. To find the judge and courthouse address for your county, visit the Kansas District Courts website. To find the prosecutor, visit the county’s website and search for the “District Attorney” or the “County Attorney.”
The respective judges and prosecutors will complete this and return the form to the Prisoner Review Board. If possible, we encourage mailing these notices with a USPS tracking number so you can demonstrate notice has been provided in your cover letter.
4) Complete Attachment C – Request for Publication for Clemency (page 7 of IMPP 11-1110) for each county with active charges. Contact the county newspaper(s) in which there are active charges and request a Legal Notice. In your request include the exact language of the notice that you would like the publication to publish. Suggested email request language is below (you can also do this by phone):
I would like to place a legal notice in The Topeka Capital-Journal. Please advise the cost of doing so and the earliest publication date. Also attached is the affidavit of publication that I request you fill out and return to me via email or mail. Please contact me with any questions or for payment at 913-444-2020. Thank you.
NOTICE OF REQUEST FOR CLEMENCY. George Washington (KDOC #12345), sentenced 7/23/04; 12/23/01 for burglary; arson; distribution/possession with intent to distribute drugs (sch1-4) in Shawnee County, Kansas, has applied for executive clemency. Persons wishing to comment should send information in writing to the following address within fifteen days from the date of this publication: Kansas Department of Corrections Prisoner Review Board, Jayhawk Walk, 714 SW Jackson, Suite 300 Topeka, KS 66603-3722.
You may send them a blank copy of Attachment C with the applicant’s completed information, but many newspapers also have their own. These are valid substitutions for the Attachment C form provided in the IMPP. These costs vary widely depending on the size of the newspaper and the length of your notice. On average, a notice with the above language will cost $20 to $40, but some larger newspapers may charge as high as $90.
After your notice has been published, be sure the newspaper provides you the completed Attachment C or other publication affidavit to include in the final clemency application packet. The publication affidavit must be completed and notarized by the newspaper that publishes your notice – it is a legal document in which they are declaring that the public has been notified of the application for clemency as required under the statute.
5) If filing for yourself, also complete and include Attachment D – Affidavit to Process as Pauper in Clemency Application (page 8 of IMPP 11-1110). This form is for the individual who is incarcerated and unable to pay for the publication notice in Attachment C.
6) If an attorney has been retained for the clemency application, they must complete and include in the final submitted packet Attachment E – Affidavit – Executive Clemency and Parole Matters (page 9 of IMPP 11-1110).
7) If submitted on behalf of someone else to the Prisoner Review Board, we suggest including a Cover Letter showing the contents of the application packet and the tracking numbers of the notices provided to the county judges and prosecutors. An example of a cover letter is included in the complete example we provide.
8) Submit the completed clemency application packet with the following documents (we suggest including a cover letter as shown in the EXAMPLE):
- Cover Letter
- Attachment A - Application for Executive Clemency
- Exhibit A – Reasons for Seeking Clemency
- Attachment B – Notice of Clemency Application (blank copies)
- Attachment C – Request for Publication for Clemency (completed by newspaper)
- If applicable: Attachment D – Affidavit to Process as Pauper in Clemency
- If applicable: Attachment E – Affidavit – Executive Clemency and Parole Matters
You may submit the application via mail to: Kansas Department of Corrections; ATTN: Prisoner Review Board; 714 SW Jackson, Suite 300; Topeka, Kansas 66603. You may also email all documents to [email protected].
9) If friends, family, or other supporters would like to submit letters in support of your application, they can mail them to the above address or email them to: [email protected]