Frequent questions


What is clemency?

South Dakota Codified Law defines "clemency" as either a pardon, commutation, reprieve, or remission of a fine or forfeiture.

The Governor may, by executive order, delegate to the Board of Pardons and Paroles the authority to hear applications for pardon, commutation, reprieve, or remission of fines and forfeitures, and to make its recommendations to him. The Governor is not bound to follow a recommendation returned by the board.

When is someone eligible to apply for clemency?

An inmate is ineligible to apply for clemency if the inmate reaches the initial parole date set pursuant to SDCL 24-15A-32. If an inmate is released on parole or the inmate's sentence has been discharged pursuant to SDCL 24-15A-7, the inmate may apply for clemency pursuant to SDCL 24-15A-23.

How does someone go about applying for clemency?

Applications for executive clemency are available on this website under the Forms section.

What is an exceptional pardon and who is eligible to receive one?

Upon the expiration of five years following the release of an applicant from a Department of Corrections facility who was convicted of not more than one felony, which was not an offense punishable by life imprisonment, the applicant may apply to the Board of Pardons and Paroles for an exceptional pardon. If an applicant was convicted of a crime that did not result in the applicant subsequently serving a prison sentence, the applicant may apply for an exceptional pardon if at least five years have passed from the date of the applicant's offense, if the applicant was not convicted of more than one felony, and if the offense was not punishable by life imprisonment.

The Board of Pardons and Paroles may recommend exceptional pardons to the Governor.

What happens if someone is granted a pardon?

Any person who has been granted a pardon under the provisions of this chapter shall be released from all disabilities consequent on such person's conviction. Upon the granting of a pardon, the Governor shall order that all official records relating to the pardoned person's arrest, indictment or information, trial, finding of guilt and receipt of a pardon shall be sealed. The effect of such order is to restore such person, in the contemplation of the law, to the status the person occupied before arrest, indictment or information. No person as to whom such order has been entered may be held thereafter under any provision of any law to be guilty of perjury or of giving a false statement by reason of such person's failure to recite or acknowledge such arrest, indictment, information or trial in response to any inquiry made of such person for any purpose.

For the sole purpose of consideration of the sentence of a defendant for subsequent offenses or the determination of whether the defendant is a habitual offender under chapter 22-7, the pardoned offense shall be considered a prior conviction.