Pardons, Board of.The first action taken in the State of Kansas with regard to pardoning convicts in the penal institutions of the state, was in 1868, when the governor was given power to pardon any person convicted in any court in the state, against any law thereof, upon the terms and conditions prescribed in the pardon. The act provided that no pardon could be granted until notice of it had been given for two weeks in a newspaper published in the county where the person was convicted. The pardon was required to be in writing, and at each session of the legislature the governor was required to send a list to both the house and senate of all persons pardoned by him since the preceding session. The governor also had the power to pardon a convict for good conduct, not more than ten days before the expiration of his term, without the notice provided in case of other pardons.
Up to 1885 the pardoning power was vested in the governor alone, but on Feb. 27 of that year the legislature passed an act "creating a board of pardons," to be appointed by the governor and to consist of three persons, at least one of whom was a lawyer, to hold office at the pleasure of the governor. The board was required to meet at least four times a year at the capitol building in Topeka, to consider the advisability of pardoning any convict in the state penal institutions, or commuting the sentence in cases referred to them by the governor or the physicians of the institutions. All applications for pardon were to be referred to the board, which inquired into the facts and made a report to the governor of its decision with regard to pardoning or commuting the sentence of a prisoner.
Any vacancies on the board were to be filled by the governor, who was authorized to convene the board in special session whenever he believed the interests of justice required it. At any time, the board of pardons could recommend the pardon of a convict without a petition, but in such case the governor was required to give notice of it for two weeks in a newspaper published in the county were the conviction took place, before the pardon was granted.
Each member of the board received $5.00 for each day actually engaged and also for all traveling and other expenses incurred in the performance of his duties. The clerical duties of the board were performed by the private secretary of the governor. After the creation of the board great care was taken in the pardoning of convicts, but in 1897 the legislature failed to make an appropriation for the board, the members of which declined to serve without renumeration, and it ceased to exist "for want of funds."
In many cases before the board of pardons was created the exercise of the pardoning power was looked upon as an act of personal favor by the governor. The value of the investigation and advice of such a tribunal as the board of pardons has changed this view and it is sufficient to say that time and experience fully demonstrate the wisdom of the creation of such a tribunal.Pages 443-444 from volume II of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed July 2002 by Carolyn Ward.
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