Gov. Healey announces overhaul of executive clemency guidelines

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Governor Maura Healey speaks to people gathered in front of the Massachusetts State House. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)
Governor Maura Healey speaks to people gathered in front of the Massachusetts State House. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)

Gov. Maura Healey unveiled an overhaul of executive clemency guidelines on Tuesday that she said begin to address bias in the criminal justice system.

Her office said these guidelines "explicitly outline" for the first time how a governor will deploy executive clemency as a tool to "address unfairness and systemic bias in the criminal justice system."

Appearing on WBUR's Radio Boston, Healey said the previous system of clemency had not taken into account brain development and systemic biases of the justice system. Her new guidelines will be used to address those issues, she said.

"It’s a tool that can be used to soften some of the harsher edges of the criminal justice system," said Healey.

Healey called the update “long overdue,” and said she worked with lawyers, prosecutors, victim's rights organizations, civil rights advocates, and stakeholder groups to create the guidelines.

Martin Healy, of the Massachusetts Bar Association, said the new guidelines "clearly reflect a more fair and equitable approach to the clemency process by taking into account both historical injustices and modern criminal justice jurisprudence."

The guidelines were last updated by Gov. Charlie Baker in 2020.

Healey, who served as attorney general for eight years before winning gubernatorial election, also recommended two new pardons Tuesday. She proposed forgiveness for Robert Miller, who was convicted in 1992 of counterfeiting licenses, and for Eric Nada, convicted in 1996 on distribution of a Class A controlled substance. Both men were in their early 20s at the time they were convicted.

Healey is the first governor to recommend pardons in their first year in office since Bill Weld in 1991. Healey recommended over 11 pardons since taking office in January, all of which have been approved by the Governor's Council.

Material from State House News Service was used in this report.

This article was originally published on October 31, 2023.

This segment aired on October 31, 2023.


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