Governor Deval L. Patrick issued new guidelines for commutations on July 17, 2014. A commutation is an act by the Governor which shortens a prisoner's sentence, allowing him or her to be released early, but does not expunge a criminal record. A pardon, on the other hand, means that a conviction is erased. All clemency petitions should be filed by October 31, because Gov. Patrick must sign any commutations before his term in office ends on January 7, 2015.
The Governor will focus on petitions submitted by "people who would be law-abiding citizens, who present no current risk of reoffending," and who can show that they are "serving an unduly harsh sentence for a non-violent offense."
In an article published in the Boston Globe on October 27, 2014, Gov. Deval Patrick states "making sure that people know that opportunities for commutation are available and making that process as straightforward as possible is why we wanted to update the guidelines."
An overview of the Governor's clemency policies can be found here. In addition, Massachusetts commutation information is available at the Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM) website.