Section 154. The parole board shall be the advisory board of pardons. Said board shall, forthwith, upon receipt of a pardon petition in a case in which the petitioner is confined in a correctional institution of the commonwealth, forward a copy of such petition to the attorney general, the commissioner of correction, the chief of police of the municipality in which the crime was committed, and, if the petitioner was sentenced in the superior court, the district attorney in whose district sentence was imposed, or, if the petitioner was sentenced in a district court, the justice of the court in which sentence was imposed.
Upon receipt of all other petitions, the board shall forward a copy to the attorney general, the chief of police and the district attorney or the justice of the district court, as the case may be; provided, however, that they shall not be required to forward said copies if the petitioner was convicted of a misdemeanor and is not confined.
Within six weeks of the receipt of a copy of any petition, the appropriate officials may make written recommendations concerning such petition to the advisory board, but failure of any or all of these officials to make such recommendations, shall not arrest the pardoning procedure in the case.
Within ten weeks of the original receipt of any petition, the advisory board shall transmit the original petition to the governor, together with its conclusions and recommendations and together with such recommendations as have been received from the above officials; except that if the board shall determine that adequate consideration of the case requires a hearing on its merits by the board, said board shall not be required to submit its recommendations at the end of ten weeks but shall notify the governor of its intention to hold a hearing; but such hearing shall be held and a report made to the governor within six months of the original receipt of the petition by the board. If the board shall determine that such hearing shall be held, in the case of a petitioner who is confined under sentence for a felony, the attorney general and the district attorney shall be notified of the hearing and they or their representatives given the opportunity to appear, examine the petitioner's witnesses and be heard.
If in the opinion of the board, the facts stated in their report to the governor are such as to cause undue or unmerited hardship or injury to the petitioner or to other individuals, if made public, the portion of said report containing such facts may be submitted separately from the conclusions and recommendations, and without publicity. However, in all cases a statement containing the facts of the crime or crimes for which a pardon or commutation is sought, the sentence or sentences received, together with all conclusions and recommendations shall be made public when the report is submitted. A copy of such statement, as well as a statement of the majority recommendation of the board, signed by all members concurring, and a certified copy of the petition with all statements and signatures appended thereto, shall be retained by the board as a permanent record open to public inspection at any reasonable time for a period of ten years from the date the original petition was filed with the board.
The said board shall not review the proceedings of the trial court, and shall not consider any questions regarding the correctness, regularity or legality of such proceedings, but shall confine itself solely to matters which properly bear upon the propriety of the extension of clemency to the petitioner. Said board, from time to time, may make rules relative to the calling of meetings and to the proceedings thereat. The board or any members of it may summon witnesses and administer oaths or affirmations. The fees of witnesses before the board shall be the same as for witnesses in civil actions before the courts, and shall be paid from the appropriation for the expenses of the parole board.