Governor’s office announces that clemency backlog has been eliminated

Under the Constitution of Illinois, persons negatively affected by criminal convictions (including, but not limited to, prisoners in State prisons) have the right to petition the Governor of Illinois for clemency. Nothing in the Constitution says that the Governor has to respond at once, though, and previous Governors had let a backlog of more than 2,300 clemency petitions build up in the Office of the Governor without final action.

When he took office in January 2015, newly-elected Governor Bruce Rauner pledged to work with his staff to eliminate this massive backlog of clemency requests. Upon digging into the pile, at least one unanswered request was found that had been filed thirteen years earlier, in 2003. Most of the clemency requests were standard pleas that a prisoner or convicted felon should not be punished. Although all of the 2,300 petitions were read, Governor Rauner granted pardons in less than 4% of the cases. Approximately 80 pardons were handed out. The backlog has now been eliminated, which will enable new requests to be read and acted on in a timely manner.