Texas State Library and Archives Commission

Texas Board of Pardon Advisors:

An Inventory of Board of Pardon Advisors Pardon Books at the Texas State Archives, 1898-1917, 1926-1930



Overview

Creator: Texas. Board of Pardon Advisors.
Title: Board of Pardon Advisors pardon books
Dates: 1898-1917, 1926-1930
Abstract: The Texas Board of Pardon Advisors assisted the governor in the review of applications for executive clemency. The records consist of five pardon books dating from 1898-1917 and 1926-1930, which were legislatively mandated to be maintained by the board. They record convict numbers (1898-1917) or application numbers (1926-1930), along with the convict's name, when sentenced, term of sentence, offense, county, date petition received, action of the board, and in the latter four volumes, action requested (or taken) by the governor. In most cases, action taken by the board is shown. Board actions included recommending granting pardons, paroles, and furloughs; advising reduction (commutation) of sentences and restoring citizenship; and adverse reports.
Quantity: 2.33 cubic ft.
Language: These materials are written in English.
Repository: Texas State Archives
Sponsor: This EAD finding aid was created in cooperation with Texas Archival Resources Online.

Agency History

The executive clemency process—pardoning convicts, giving executive paroles, granting furloughs, commuting sentences, etc.—was a function given to the governor under the Constitution of the State of Texas, Article IV, Section 11. The Board of Pardon Advisors (the predecessor of the Board of Pardons and Paroles) was created in 1893 (Senate Bill 19, 23rd Texas Legislature, Regular Session) to assist the governor with these executive clemency functions. The Board of Pardon Advisors was composed of two individuals chosen by the governor, who assisted him by reviewing applications and making recommendations for executive clemency. The board was able to review more applications and examine these more thoroughly than the governor was able to do, which resulted in more pardons being granted.

Over the years, several pieces of legislation were enacted which reduced the exclusive power of the governor in this process. In 1905, the legislature allowed the State Penitentiary Board to begin granting paroles to meritorious convicts (Senate Bill 11, 29th Legislature, Regular Session). In 1910, the name was changed to the Board of Prison Commissioners (Senate Bill 10, 31st Legislature, 4th Called Session), and again in 1927 to the Texas Prison Board (House Bill 59, 40th Legislature, Regular Session).

In 1929, the legislature changed the name of the Board of Pardon Advisors to the Board of Pardons and Paroles (House Bill 20, 41st Legislature, 1st Called Session). The new board was expanded to add another member—all still appointed by the governor. The governor appointed a chairman of the board. The board designated a member to serve as the Supervisor of Paroles, whose duties included compiling a list of all convicts eligible for parole, studying prisoners being considered for parole, securing employment (if possible) for parolees, and keeping a record of parolees. The board also gathered information regarding the cases, kept pre-parole records, maintained a register of cases acted upon, and made recommendations to the governor regarding the disposition of clemency applications. This law also detailed all aspects of the parole system, including who could be paroled, reasons and methods for release, conditions of parole, violations of parole, retaking parole violators, felonies committed while on parole, discharge from parole, records kept, and other items.

In 1935, the legislature placed restrictions on the governor's pardoning power and changed the appointment of the board (Senate Joint Resolution 26, 44th Legislature, Regular Session). The board was still composed of three members, but only one was appointed by the governor. One was appointed by the chief justice of the Supreme Court and the other by the presiding justice of the Court of Civil Appeals, all subject to confirmation by the senate. The governor could only grant pardons and reprieves, commute sentences, and remit fines and forfeitures only with the written signed recommendation of the legislature. The governor could still grant a reprieve in capital punishment cases, not to exceed thirty days, and had the power to revoke paroles and conditional pardons.

In 1947, the Adult Probation and Parole Law was enacted (House Bill 120, 50th Legislature, Regular Session). This law authorized the board, with approval of the governor, to release any prisoners for parole or probation, with the exception of those under a death sentence. This law replaced the former parole laws and became the statute which governed parole actions. In 1957, the name of the Texas Prison Board was changed to the Texas Board of Corrections, and a Division for Parole Supervisors was established to open up district offices across the state to monitor parolees (House Bill 42, 55th Legislature, Regular Session). The board received further assistance with its parole duties with the creation of the Texas Parole Commission in 1975 (Senate Bill 240, 64th Legislature, Regular Session). This commission was composed of six parole commissioners with decision-making authority in parole matters and was designated to assist the board with some parole functions.

In 1983, the structure of the board changed again, when the legislature increased the board to six members, all appointed by the governor with approval and consent of the Senate. The board continued to receive assistance from the Texas Parole Commission with parole decisions and mandatory supervision revocation decisions (Senate Bill 396, 68th Legislature, Regular Session).

In 1989, the legislature created the Texas Department of Criminal Justice to consolidate the various criminal justice functions in state government into one agency, with the Board of Pardons and Paroles a Division within that agency and its board increased to 18 members (House Bill 2335, 71st Legislature, Regular Session). Since 2001, the board has been comprised of six members plus a chair, appointed to six-year terms by the governor with the advice and consent of the senate (House Bill 1649, 77th Legislature, Regular Session).

The functions of the Board of Pardons and Paroles (Division) are the administration of the state-wide parole system (Article 42.18, Code of Criminal Procedure) and investigating acts of executive clemency by the governor (Texas Constitution, Article IV, Section 11, and Code of Criminal Procedure). Executive clemency includes reprieves of executions, commutation of sentences, full and conditional pardons, restoration of civil rights and citizenship, trial reprieves of all jail sentences, medical emergency reprieves, remission of bond forfeiture, and restoration of drivers licenses. Parole functions include determining prisoners to be paroled, establishing conditions of parole, investigating and supervising prisoners on parole, conducting parole revocation hearings, and establishing parole policies. Paroles are issued by orders of the board. Executive clemency acts still require the affirmative action of the Board of Pardons and Paroles and the governor before action can be taken.

(Sources include: the enabling legislation, Paul M. Lucko, "Board of Pardons and Paroles," Handbook of Texas Online, accessed August 4, 2015; and the records themselves.)


Scope and Contents of the Records

The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles assisted the governor in the review of applications for executive clemency. The records consist of five pardon books (1898-1917, 1926-1930) from the Board of Pardon Advisors. The Board of Pardon Advisors pardon books are records which were legislatively mandated to be maintained by the board. The entries are arranged alphabetically and give the convict number (1898-1917) or number of application (1926-1930), the convict's name, when sentenced, term of sentence, offense, county, date petition received, action of the board, and in the latter four volumes, action requested (or taken) by the governor. In most cases, action taken by the board is shown. Board actions included recommending granting pardons, paroles, and furloughs; advising reduction (commutation) of sentences and restoring citizenship; and adverse reports. According to the 1918 biennial report of the board, when action of the board was unfavorable, it usually was not reported, which may account for some blank entries under action taken. In some cases, the convict's sentence expired before the board took action on his case, which is also noted. Action taken by the governor (the recommended action granted) is not always provided.

To prepare this preliminary inventory, the described materials were cursorily reviewed the delineate series, to confirm the accuracy of contents lists, to provide an estimate of dates covered, and to determine record types.


 

Arrangement of the Records

Board of Pardon Advisors pardon books span chronological ranges of years with some overlap between volumes, and entries are alphabetical with each volume.

Restrictions

Restrictions on Access

Materials do not circulate, but may be used in the State Archives search room. Materials will be retrieved from and returned to storage areas by staff members.

Restrictions on Use

Most records created by Texas state agencies are not copyrighted. State records also include materials received by, not created by, state agencies. Copyright remains with the creator. The researcher is responsible for complying with U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17 U.S.C.).

Technical Requirements

None.


Index Terms

The terms listed here were used to catalog the records. The terms can be used to find similar or related records.
Corporate Names:
Texas. Board of Pardons and Paroles.
Subjects:
Pardon--Texas.
Clemency--Texas.
Document Types:
Registers (lists)--Texas--Pardon--1898-1917, 1926-1930.
Functions:
Pardoning.

Related Material

The following materials are offered as possible sources of further information on the agencies and subjects covered by the records. The listing is not exhaustive.

Texas State Archives
In addition to the records listed, portions of many 19th and 20th century governors' records concern executive clemency. Search governors' finding aids for pardon, clemency, or other similar terms.
Texas Secretary of State, Executive record books, 1835-1917, 15.18 cubic ft.
Texas Secretary of State, Parole Division, Parolee records, 1946-1950, 0.8 cubic ft. [There is no finding aid available for this unprocessed collection. Call numbers are 2-1/331, 2-1/158, and 2-1/159.]
Texas Office of the Governor, Criminal Justice Division, Records, General Counsel executive clemency files, 1978-1990, 5 cubic ft.
Texas Board of Pardon Advisors, Trial docket, 1907-1908, fractional [There is no finding aid available for this unprocessed item. Call number is 2-9/453.]
Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles, Commutations of death sentences, 1911-1914, 1933-1935, 1 cubic ft. [RESTRICTED][There is no finding aid available for this unprocessed collection. Call number is 4-16/54.]
Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles, Execution case files, 1954-1964, 4.5 cubic ft. [RESTRICTED]
Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles, Minutes, 1971, 1973-2003, 4.75 cubic ft. [There is no finding aid available for these unprocessed records. Call numbers are 1998/167, 2004/179, 2007/135, 2011/088, 2015/209.]
Texas applications for special pardons, 1865-1867, 3 cubic ft.
Texas Office of the Governor, Records of George W. Bush, Executive clemency files, 1961, 1965, 1968, 1974, 1983-2000, bulk 1995-2000, 1.5 cubic ft. [RESTRICTED]
Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Records, 1849-2004, 170.08 cubic ft. [RESTRICTED]
Records Relating to the Penitentiary at the Texas State Archives, 1846-1921, undated, 87.85 cubic ft.
Texas Legislature, Joint Committee to Investigate the State Penitentiary System proceedings, 1925, 0.75 cubic ft.
Texas Court of Criminal Appeals records, 1892-2010, 7,356.66 cubic ft. [RESTRICTED]
Texas Department of Criminal Justice death row historical files (execution files), 1923-1983, 1992-1995, bulk 1923-1972, 16 cubic ft. [RESTRICTED]
Texas Court of Criminal Appeals execution case files, 1968-2012, 1,349 cubic ft. [RESTRICTED]
Texas Secretary of State, Statutory Documents Section executive clemency records, 1840, 1845-2009, 111.18 cubic ft., 166 reels of microfilm (originals), 21 reels of microfilm (duplicates)

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

(Identify the item), Texas Board of Pardon Advisors pardon books. Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

Accession Information

Accession number: 1990/134

These records were transferred to the Archives and Information Services Division of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Board of Pardons and Paroles Division, on April 30, 1990.

Processing Information

Processed by Laura Saegert, November 1990

Finding aid encoded in EAD 2002 and made DACS-compliant with edits to description by Susan Floyd, August 2015

Appraisal Information

These records were appraised by Paul Beck on August 27, 1990.


Detailed Description of the Records

 

Board of Pardon Advisors pardon books, 1898-1917, 1926-1930,
2.33 cubic ft.

Volume
1990/134-1 Pardon book, 1898-1907
Volume
1990/134-2 Pardon book, 1903-1911
Volume
1990/134-3 Pardon book, 1911-1914
Volume
1990/134-4 Pardon book, 1914-1917
Volume
1990/134-5 Pardon book, 1926-1930