Wisconsin Pardon and Parole Laws


Restoration of Civil Rights of Convicted Persons

The Wisconsin pardon and parole laws are provided under Wis. Stat. §§ 304.078 through 304.11.  In Wisconsin, every person who is convicted of a crime obtains a restoration of his or her civil rights by serving out his or her term of imprisonment or otherwise satisfying his or her sentence.  The certificate of the department or other responsible supervising agency that a convicted person has served his or her sentence or otherwise satisfied the judgment against him or her is evidence of that fact and that the person is restored his or her civil rights.  The department or other agency must list in the person’s certificate the rights which have been restored and which have not been restored.  If a person is disqualified from voting, his or her right to vote is restored when he or she completes the term of imprisonment or probation for the crime that led to the disqualification.  The department or, if the person is sentenced to a county jail or house of correction, the jailer must inform the person in writing at the time his or her right to vote is restored under this subsection[i].

Applications for Pardon

Pursuant to Wis. Stat. § 304.08, all applications for pardon of any convict serving a sentence of one year or more, except for pardons to be granted within 10 days next before the time when the convict would be otherwise entitled to discharge pursuant to law, must be made and conducted in the manner hereinafter prescribed, and according to such additional regulations as may from time to time be prescribed by the governor.  The notice of the pardon application must state the name of the convict, the crime of which he or she was convicted, the date and term of sentence and the date if known, when the application is to be heard by the governor.  The notice must be served on the following persons, if they can be found:

  • The judge who participated in the trial of the convict.
  • The district attorney who participated in the trial of the convict.
  • The victim or, if the victim is dead, an adult member of the victims family.

The notice must inform the persons of the manner in which they may provide written statements or participate in any applicable hearing.  The applicant must serve notice on the persons at least 3 weeks before the hearing of the application.  The governor must make a reasonable attempt to serve notice on the person at least 3 weeks before the hearing of the application.  The notice must be published at least once each week for 2 successive weeks before the hearing in a newspaper of general circulation in the county where the offense was committed.  If there is no such newspaper, the notice must be posted in a conspicuous place on the door of the courthouse of the county for 3 weeks before the hearing and published once each week for 2 consecutive weeks before the hearing in a newspaper published in an adjoining county.  Publication as required in this subsection must be completed by a date designated by the governor.  However, the date must be a reasonable time prior to the hearing date[ii].

Moreover, an application for pardon must be accompanied by the following papers:

  • Notice of application and acknowledgments or affidavits showing due service and affidavits showing due publication and posting whenever required;
  • A certified copy of the court record entries, the indictment or information, and any additional papers on file in the court, if obtainable, as the governor requires;
  • A full sworn statement by the applicant of all facts and reasons upon which the application is based;
  • Written statements by the judge and the district attorney who tried the case, if obtainable, indicating their views regarding the application and stating any circumstances within their knowledge in aggravation or extenuation of the applicants guilt;
  • A certificate of the keeper of the prison where the applicant has been confined showing whether the applicant has conducted himself or herself in a peaceful and obedient manner.

Furthermore, when a victim or member of the victim’s family receives notice, he or she may provide the governor with written statements indicating his or her views regarding the application and stating any circumstances within his or her knowledge in aggravation or extenuation of the applicant’s guilt.  Upon receipt of any such statement, the governor must place the statement with the other pardon application papers.  Any statement or paper containing a reference to the address of a victim or a member of the victim;s family which is contained in a statement or other paper accompanying a pardon application is not subject to s. 19.35 and must be closed to the public.  However, the governor, using the procedure must delete any reference to the address in any statement or paper made public[iii].

Conditional Pardon

Wis. Stat. § 304.11 provides that in case a pardon is granted upon conditions, the governor may issue a warrant to carry the conditions into effect.  If it appears to the governor during the term of the sentence that the convicted person violated or failed to comply with any such condition, the governor may issue a warrant to any sheriff commanding the sheriff to arrest the convicted person and bring the convicted person before the governor.  Moreover, if upon inquiry it further appears to the governor that the convicted person has violated or failed to comply with any of those conditions, the governor may issue his or her warrant remanding the person to the institution from which s/he was discharged.  The person must be confined and treated as though no pardon had been granted, except that the person loses any applicable good time which he or she had earned.  However, if the person is returned to prison, the person is subject to the same limitations as a revoked parolee.  If the governor determines the person has not violated or failed to comply with the conditions, the person must be discharged subject to the conditional pardon.

Wisconsin Pardon and Parole Laws

[i] Wis. Stat. § 304.078.

[ii] Wis. Stat. § 304.09.

[iii] Wis. Stat. § 304.10.