House Bill 427 — Commission of Pardons and Parole

House Bill 427 — Commission of Pardons and Parole

by
Parrish Miller
February 13, 2020
Parrish Miller
February 13, 2020

Bill description: HB 427 makes changes to the law dealing with commutations and pardons issued by the Commission of Pardons and Parole.

Rating: 0

Does it directly or indirectly create or increase penalties for victimless crimes or non-restorative penalties for nonviolent crimes? Conversely, does it eliminate or decrease penalties for victimless crimes or non-restorative penalties for non-violent crimes?

HB 427 deletes language from Section 20-240, Idaho Code, regarding the crimes for which the commission shall have "full and final power" to grant commutations and pardons. It also moves an amended version of that language to a new section, Section 20-240A, Idaho Code.

The commission can recommend that the governor pardon or commute the sentence of someone convicted of various crimes. Those crimes include "murder, voluntary manslaughter, rape, kidnapping, lewd and lascivious conduct with a minor child, and manufacture or delivery of controlled substances."

Under the new language in the new section, that list is replaced with the language "any offense, for which the maximum punishment allowed by law at the time of sentencing is death or life imprisonment." The new section contains two exceptions to that definition. The first covers any convictions involving controlled substances, such as drugs, that could carry a life sentence. The second covers crimes whose sentences are enhanced to life imprisonment under chapter 25, title 19, Idaho Code. That chapter imposes additional sanctions for various individuals or offenses, such as "persistent violators" and using of a firearm or deadly weapon.

HB 427 makes two significant changes to state sentencing law. The first is to reduce the commission’s authority to pardon or commute sentences and transfer it to the governor. This is because many offenses in Idaho code carry a maximum sentence of life imprisonment, the standard that requires a governor’s approval.

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The second change is to effectively allow the commission to pardon or commute the sentences of those convicted of the "manufacture or delivery of controlled substances" without the governor's involvement.

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