People who have been convicted of a crime and are currently serving their California prison sentence may apply for a commutation (reduction of sentence). 

How we review applications

In deciding whether to grant a commutation, the Governor’s Office will carefully review commutation applications and consider: 

  • the impact of a commutation on the community, including whether the grant is consistent with public safety and in the interests of justice, 
  • the age and circumstances of the offense and the sentence imposed, and the age of the applicant at the time, 
  • the applicant’s self-development and conduct since the offense, including whether the applicant has made use of available rehabilitative programs and has identified and addressed treatment needs, 
  • the applicant’s need for a commutation, and
  • the applicant’s plans upon release from custody. 

Applicants will be notified when the Governor takes action on a commutation application. 

The Board of Parole Hearings, a division of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, investigates commutation applications. The investigation will include a review of the applicant’s criminal history records, court and police records, and the applicant’s prison record (or C-File). 

The Governor cannot grant a commutation to applicants with more than one felony conviction without the approval of the California Supreme Court. The Governor’s Office requests this approval if needed. 

Applying for a commutation

You do not need a lawyer to apply for a commutation

  1. Submit a completed Commutation Application (2 pages) to the Governor’s Office. You may, but are not required to, submit additional information or copies of relevant documents in support of your application, such as letters of support; and
  2. Submit a completed Notice of Intent to Apply for Clemency (1 page) to the District Attorney in the county of the conviction for your commitment offense.
  3. Submit an authorization for release of medical information if you are applying for a commutation because you are suffering from a chronic or terminal illness or have a severe and chronic disability that would be substantially mitigated by release from prison or reduction of sentence.

Send application materials to the Governor’s Office by email to If you do not have access to email you can send the application by mail to Office of the Governor, Attn: Legal Affairs/Parole and Clemency, 1021 O Street, Suite 9000, Sacramento, CA 95814. The Governor’s Office cannot accept in-person delivery. Please do not send original documents because application materials cannot be returned. 

The Governor is not required to consider an application and there is no set timeline for review. There is no application fee and a lawyer is not required to apply for a commutation. For additional information about commutations, visit the Judicial Council’s self-help website