BOSTON, Mass. (SHNS)– The Governor’s Council on Wednesday unanimously approved Gov. Charlie Baker’s commutation petitions for a pair of individuals serving life sentences for first-degree murder, making William Allen and Thomas Koonce eligible for release on parole.

The commutations of Allen and Koonce were the first to be recommended by Baker since he took office in 2015, and Wednesday’s approval by the eight-member elected council marks the first time since 1997 that first-degree murder sentences have been commuted in Massachusetts. Commutations were more commonplace in the last century, including 25 commutations for first-degree murder convictions between 1973 and 1979, and another 12 between 1980 and 1997.

The council on Wednesday also unanimously approved Baker’s nomination of Rep. Sheila Harrington to serve as clerk magistrate of Gardner District Court. The six-term Groton Republican’s departure from the House will drop the GOP caucus in that branch to 28 members.