Commutation of sentence involves the reduction of legal penalties, especially in terms of imprisonment. Unlike a pardon, a commutation does not nullify the conviction and is often conditional. Clemency is a similar term, meaning the lessening of the penalty of the crime without forgiving the crime itself. The act of clemency is a reprieve. Today, pardons and reprieves are granted in many countries when individuals have demonstrated that they have fulfilled their debt to society, or are otherwise deserving (in the opinion of the pardoning official) of a pardon or reprieve.

–Please listen to this profound radio story: A Life Sentence: Victims, Offenders, Justice, And My Mother by Samantha Broun and Jay Allison –  3.01.16 published on

Many people impacted by murder or are connected to life sentences in PA know the story of Reginald McFadden. He was the guy who got his life sentence commuted in 1994 and went on violent killing spree. It was this case that shut down commutations for lifers in the state.  Samantha Broun, the daughter of one of his victims, is on a quest for forgiveness and in her journey is critical of the brokenness of the commutation process. This story is powerful on so many levels – The lifelong impact of violence. The resilience. The quest for healing. Samantha interviews former Governor Tom Ridge, commuted lifer Tyrone Wertz, McFadden’s sister, members of the board of pardons, as well as her brother and mom, the only survivor of McFadden’s victims. Download to Listen to “A Life Sentence”

Our Commutation Kit has been updated as of February 2020 more information on our updated commutation kits here

A resource for people in PA applying for commutation. The Kit includes a sample application, tips for writing your application and tips for your loved ones to write a support letter for you.

History and Stats:

Statistics of Commutation and the PA Department of Corrections

Pennsylvania Parole and Life Imprisonment by Jon Yount – February 2004

History of Commutation by Lifers Incorporated Commutation Committee – Information Sheet December 21, 2010

Mass Incarceration of the Elderly – Report by the ACLU

Chronological Legal History of Parole and Probation from PA Sentencing

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