Bill to Allow Governor Power to Grant Clemency to Prisoners Proposed

Former longtime parole board chairman sole opponent of bill to provide check to clemency decisions

By Tristan Scott

HELENA – The governor of Montana could grant clemency to prisoners even if the parole board recommends against it under legislation proposed as part of a package seeking more board oversight.

Rep. Margie McDonald introduced the bill in the House Judiciary Committee Tuesday. McDonald says it would provide a check on the state Board of Pardons and Parole’s power to make clemency decisions.

Former longtime parole board chairman Mike McKee of Hamilton was the only one to speak against the bill, saying it would add a layer of political influence to board decisions.

Two related bills were introduced Tuesday. One would allow a governor to remove a parole board chairman or chairwoman. The other would require the board to comply with the state’s administrative procedures act as other executive boards are required to do.