Kansas Pardon Information
The Kansas Constitution says that the “pardoning power shall be vested in the governor, under regulations and restrictions prescribed by law.” The Legislature has created a body called the Kansas Parole Board to create rules and regulations regarding the application for a pardon. The Board is made up of three members who are appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Senate. The members each serve a four-year term and no more than two members may be from the same political party.
The Board is responsible for examining each pardon application and submitting a report to the Governor. Although the Board makes a recommendation to the Governor, the Governor has the final say on all pardon applications. The Governor can place any reasonable conditions on a pardon as he deems just.
The Governor is required to report every year to the Legislature every pardon he granted during the preceding year, including the name of the person pardoned, a statement of the offense the person was convicted of, the sentence the person received for that offense, and any conditions the Governor imposed on that person along with the pardon.
Because the focus of this site is on pardons, we will not discuss reprieves, commutations, remission of fines and forfeitures, amnesty, parole, or other types of clemency that may be available in Kansas here. We will also not discuss judicial alternatives such as record expungement, record sealing, setting aside or dismissal of convictions. You should talk to an attorney if you think any of these alternative options may be more appropriate for you.
The Governor can only grant you a pardon for a Kansas conviction. If you want a pardon for a federal conviction, you must do that through the United States Department of Justice, Office of the Pardon Attorney (see our page on this site on federal pardons). If you want to pardon for an out-of-state conviction, you should find the appropriate page on this site dealing with pardons in that particular state.
You can apply for a pardon in Kansas even if you are still serving your sentence (for example, still in prison). The rule of thumb is if you are unsure whether you are eligible to apply, you should go ahead and apply; there is no harm in doing so.
However, keep in mind that a pardon is an extraordinary remedy that is granted very sparingly in Kansas. For example, in 2007 the Kansas Parole Board submitted 42 clemency/pardon applications to the Governor; the Governor did not grant any of those applications. In 2012, 28 pardon applications were received. No pardons were granted and 25 applications were denied.
Your chance of getting a pardon largely depends on your individual circumstances. Naturally, the older and less serious your convictions, and the more compelling your life story, the higher your chance of getting a pardon. Your chance of getting a pardon can also depend on who is serving as Governor at the time your application is reviewed; some Governors are more lenient than others in handing out pardons.
The Application Process
There are no fees to apply for a pardon in Kansas.
The application forms and procedure can be found on the Kansas Parole Board’s website at http://www.dc.state.ks.us/kpb/clemency. You must follow the procedures carefully. If you have a difficult time accessing the Board’s website or the application forms, you can contact the Board directly at 785-296-3469 or write to:
Kansas Parole Board
Landon State Office Building
900 S.W. Jackson, Suite 425-S
Topeka, KS 66612
There are basically three forms you need to fill out:
- Notice of Clemency Application Sentencing Form;
- Request for Publication Form; and
- Application for Clemency.
If you hire an attorney to help you, the attorney must also submit an Attorney Affidavit form. All of these forms are quite simple and self-explanatory. In most cases, you will not need an attorney to help you.
The Notice of Clemency Application Sentencing Form is simply a notice to certain government officials that you are applying for a pardon. You must give notice to these individuals before the Governor can grant you a pardon. You must fill out this form and send one copy to each of the following individuals:
- the judge who was involved in the case you are trying to get a pardon for,
- the prosecuting attorney who was involved in the case,
- the Sheriff in the county where you were convicted, and
- the Police Chief in the county where you were convicted.
Do not fill out the bottom section of the notice form. This section is reserved for those individuals to make their reply.
The Request for Publication Form is basically to alert the public that you are applying for a pardon. This notice is required. You must fill in your name, date you were sentenced, and the county where you were convicted. You must sign and indicate a return address. Call the newspaper ahead of time to find out what the price would be for the publication, because you will need to send a check to the Board for that amount. You must send two copies of this form to the official county newspaper for the county where you were convicted. After the newspaper has published the notice, it will send you back an affidavit and a copy of the notice, which you must then send to the Board.
The final form, the Application for Clemency form, is the actual application itself. This is the most important form. Fill it out completely and accurately. Use a separate sheet of paper if necessary. Have a trusted friend or family member double check your spelling and grammar if necessary. (The acronym “KDOC” stands for “Kansas Department of Corrections.”)
In your application form, it is highly important that you provide the reason(s) for why you need a pardon. Simply saying you want a clean criminal record is not enough. Tell the Board/Governor how your conviction has negatively affected you and/or your family. For example, explain how you have been denied housing or employment opportunities because of your conviction, and how this has prevented you from providing your family and you an adequate standard of living.
If you are facing deportation because of a conviction, explain how being separated from your family will negatively affect you as well as them. If you are pursuing a career in a field that requires you to obtain a pardon, submit documents, letters, or other proof from a prospective employer, licensing agency, or attorney verifying this necessity. If you need to regain your gun rights, explain why you need this—for example, you are pursuing a career that requires the use of firearms, or you want to take part in your family hunting traditions, or you simply want to feel more secure and able to defend yourself and/or your family after a recent traumatic event.
Also indicate on your personal statement all the positive things that have occurred in your life—for example, educational achievements, new or stable employment, marriage and children, community involvement, charitable services or donations, law-abiding behavior, etc. Submit copies of your college transcript, high school diploma or GED, military certificates, marriage certificate, honors and awards, and other proof of your rehabilitation and good character. Explain what your future plans are and how a pardon would help or hinder those plans.
In writing your personal statement, keep in mind that the Board/Governor is not retrying you for the offense. Although you may want to explain the facts of the crime from your perspective, avoid trying to make excessive excuses for your crime and arguing away your guilt. Whatever you feel about the crime, you had already been found guilty. The Board/Governor is probably more interested in seeing your remorse for the crime, and your understanding of its effects on the victim and society, than anything else.
Although not required, we recommend that you submit letters of recommendation from friends, family members, church members, employers, coworkers, and others who know you well and can say good things about you. The writer should indicate how he or she knows you and why he or she thinks you should be granted a pardon. If possible, submit letters from those who are not related to you, to avoid the appearance of bias.
Make sure you keep a copy of everything you send for your records. You must submit two copies of your application (including all supporting letters and documents) to:
Landon State Office Building
900 S.W. Jackson, Suite 425-S
Topeka, KS 66612
Once the Board receives everything it needs, it will closely examine your application. The Board may conduct a personal interview on you. The Board may even hold a hearing on your application. You should be upfront and cooperative with the Board and its agents at all times.
If a hearing is held, you should make every effort to attend, and, if possible, bring credible people who can speak out in your support. The hearing is a good opportunity for you to put a human face onto your application; it lets the Board see you in person as well as the amount of support you have in your community. Although these hearings are usually less formal than court hearings, you should still look and act your best; dress in the same way you would if you were going to court for a trial.
The victim (or the victim’s family) will be notified of your application and will have an opportunity to attend the hearing (if one is held) and/or submit their written opinion on your application. Government officials will also have an opportunity to voice their opinion.
Once the Board has conducted a thorough review of your application and held the hearing (if necessary), it will prepare a report and make a recommendation to the Governor. The Governor then has the final say on whether or not you receive the pardon.
If you have any questions about the application process, call the Board at the above number.
The purposes of a Kansas pardon are primarily to forgive you of the offense you committed and to relieve you of further punishment for that offense. This means that if you are still serving your sentence (e.g., still imprisoned), a pardon for that conviction would release you from the remaining part of the sentence (e.g., release you from prison early).
However, the pardon does not erase or expunge your conviction. Your conviction will still be part of your criminal record. As in many other states, a pardon in Kansas “forgives but does not forget.” Getting a pardon does not make you “innocent” of the crime again. You must still answer “yes” to any question that asks whether you have been convicted of the crime.
Nonetheless, you might be able to have your conviction expunged through the judicial expungement process that is available in Kansas. Judicial expungement usually requires you to submit a formal motion or petition to the court that convicted you, and there may be a waiting period after your completion of the sentence before you can apply. Because of the formality and adversarial nature of court proceedings, you might want to obtain the help of an attorney for this. Certain serious crimes (murder, rape, voluntary manslaughter, etc.) are not eligible for judicial expungement.
You lose your rights to vote, to hold public office, and to serve on a jury in Kansas if you have been convicted of a felony. However, these rights are automatically restored once you complete your sentence. Typically, when an offender is released from his or her sentence, the Kansas Parole Board will provide the offender with a “certificate of discharge” which restores the offender’s civil rights that were taken away because of the conviction.  In other words, unless you are still serving your sentence, a pardon is probably not necessary if your purpose is only to restore these rights.
However, a pardon will not lift the bar on you with respect to serving as a law enforcement officer. Also, a pardon does not necessarily restore your gun rights. As of this writing, Kansas law is silent with regard to the effect a pardon has on one’s gun rights in Kansas. You should talk to an attorney or the Governor’s office directly about this.
Under federal law, if you have received a pardon from any state, the pardoned conviction cannot be used by federal authorities to prosecute you for “unlawful possession of a firearm” unless the pardon specifically says you cannot possess a gun. However, just because you cannot be prosecuted under federal law does not mean you cannot be prosecuted under state law. Some states have stricter gun laws than federal law. If regaining your gun rights is important to you, make sure you make your desire known on your application.
In most cases, federal immigration authorities cannot rely solely on a conviction that has been subject to a pardon for the purpose of deporting you from the country. If immigration is not an issue for you, this benefit is obviously irrelevant.
Finally, keep in mind that the effects of a pardon can vary from one state to the next. For example, if you receive a pardon in Kansas and then move to another state, that other state might take away your gun rights or require you to register as a sex offender again even if the pardon lifted these restrictions away while you were living in Kansas. Thus, you should always check with the laws of the state you move to rather than just assume that the benefits of the pardon moves with you across state lines. Fortunately, states tend and honor each other’s pardons.
- Kansas on Wikipedia
- Kansas State Bar
- ApplyForPardon .com - Pardon form completion service. Enter your information and get a neat and clean looking form sent to you.
- Record Clearing .org - post conviction information
- Kan. Const. art. 1, § 7.
- Kan. Stat. § 22-3707.
- Kan. Stat. § 22-3701.
- Kan. Stat. § 22-3703.
- The Sentencing Project, Kansas, Margaret Colgate Love, http://www.sentencingproject.org/tmp/File/Collateral%20Consequences/Kansas.pdf; see also Kan. Stat. § 22-3701.
- Kansas Parole Board, 2007 Annual Report, p. 12, http://www.dc.state.ks.us/kpb/annual-reports
- Marie McNeal, admnistrator
- See Kan. Admin. Regs. § 45-100-1(e).
- Kan. Stat. § 22-3702.
- The Sentencing Project, Kansas, Margaret Colgate Love, http://www.sentencingproject.org/tmp/File/Collateral%20Consequences/Kansas.pdf
- Kan. Stat. § 21-4619.
- Kan. Stat. § 21-4615.
- Kan. Stat. § 21-4615; see also Kan. Stat. § 22-3722.
- The Sentencing Project, Kansas, Margaret Colgate Love, http://www.sentencingproject.org/tmp/File/Collateral%20Consequences/Kansas.pdf.; see also Kan. Att‚Äôy Gen. Op. No. 85-165 (1985).
- 18 U.S.C. 921(a)(20) & (33).