The Investigation Division’s functions are to provide review, evaluation and summary through an investigation process for the following types of investigations:
Pardons – A California Governor’s pardon is an honor traditionally granted only to individuals who have demonstrated exemplary behavior following conviction. The granting of a full pardon entitles the applicant to exercise some of the civil and political rights of citizenship that were lost as a result of the conviction. Any person who has been convicted of a felony, or a specified misdemeanor sex offense, in California may apply to the Governor for a pardon. Persons living within California must apply through the Certificate of Rehabilitation (CR) process in their county of residence. Those outside of California, and some specified sex offenders who are not eligible for a CR, must apply directly to the Governor under the Direct Pardon process. These latter cases must be reviewed by the full Board, and the Board forwards a recommendation to the Governor. To obtain further information about the pardon application process, please visit the Pardons page from the Office of Governor Gavin Newsom.
BPH Investigations – Hearing panels of the BPH request investigations on state prisoners who will be or are being considered for parole. These investigation reports range from following up on possible mitigating circumstances identified in documentation hearings of Life parole suitability hearings, to determining individual culpability in the commitment offense, or gathering additional information regarding the crime, criminal history, or negative behavior while incarcerated.
Governor’s Investigations – Information/data required for this type of investigation varies depending on the type of investigation and specifics of the request. These cases can include clemency requests based on innocence or special circumstances.
Death Penalty Investigations – Upon receipt of a petition for clemency, the Governor may request that the Board investigate and make a recommendation to assist in determining whether to grant a reprieve or executive clemency. Persons currently on condemned status are listed on the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation website.
Out-of-State Investigations – These requests occur as a result of an interstate compact agreement when a California resident requests a gubernatorial pardon from another state. The state requests that the BPH submit a pre-pardon investigation report in order that it might make a decision on the applicant’s suitability.
Recall of Sentence Investigations – The Investigations Division processes requests for medical release and re-sentencing consideration. Requests are usually generated by the sentencing court, after 120 days of incarceration; or by the Department of Corrections, for terminally ill inmates, to consider returning jurisdiction back to the court for possible modification of the sentence. An investigation report is compiled and referred to the BPH for a determination and appropriate disposition.
Intimate Partner Battering/Battered Woman Syndrome Investigations – Investigations into the probability that a prisoner’s crime was the result of domestic violence or Intimate Partner Battering/Battered Woman Syndrome may be initiated upon the request of the Governor or the Board. Information is gathered by the Investigations Division and a report is submitted to the Board for consideration. The Board may then make a recommendation to the Governor regarding clemency.
Pre-Parole Investigations – The BPH’s Decision Review Unit, upon receiving a parole grant of a life term inmate, initiates these investigations. Information is gathered to assess the verity of the parole plans as presented to the panel during the parole suitability hearing.
Foreign Prisoner Transfer Investigations – Authority to approve transfers of foreign citizen inmates to their native countries to serve the remainder of their prison terms is delegated to the Executive Officer of the Board of Parole Hearings by the Governor under the provisions of Government Code § 12012.1. Factors that affect the transfer eligibility of foreign citizen inmates include the circumstances of their crime, the policies of other nations, the lack of treaty between the United States (U.S.) and their country of nationality, or the eligibility requirements of international treaties (the first of which is that inmates must willingly volunteer to be considered for transfer).
California Strongly supports the concept of transferring foreign national inmates, especially if it will enhance their rehabilitation and successful re-entry to society. To obtain further information about the transfer treaty program, please read the International Prisoner Transfer Treaty Program brochure, available from the US Department of Justice, in English or Spanish. The US Department of State also maintains current Embassy contact information.