December 2020 PA Board of Pardons Update

December 2020 PA Board of Pardons Update

Here’s why you want to get the Record Eraser process started as soon as possible.

In 2020, 747 Applications were reviewed by the Board of Pardons, and 64% went on to have a Public hearing.  Getting the two votes needed for a public hearing is the first hurdle in the Pardon processs.  That is an increase of 140% in the number of cases that were reviewed in 2019.

​Applications Merit Reviewed ​747
​Applications Heard at Public Hearings ​480
​Pardons Recommended ​325

Out of the cases reviewed, 325 received at least 3 votes from the Board and were recommended to the Governor. So, 67% of the cases that were given a public hearing were recommended by the Board to the Governor to receive a Pardon.  This positive vote is the second hurdle.

Now, out of the 418 Applications recommended to the Governor, he granted 124 – basically 30%.  There are another 294 pending the Governor’s consideration, which could change the success rate of his review, but it probably won’t happen in 2020.


Applications Recommended to Governor ​418
Pardons Granted by Governor

(pardons pending the Governors consideration)



However, last year, Governor Wolf granted 92% of the Applications presented to him.

So, here are the takeaways:

  • The Board has changed and streamlined their process to move more Applications through the review process. This has meant meeting more frequently and more efficiently.
  • There are almost 300 Applications pending decision by the Governor.
  • The Board seems to get more efficient at NOT recommending Pardons that they consider too soon, or insufficient.
  • Over the course of his tenure, Governor Wolf has pardoned over 1200 people who had criminal convictions in Pennsylvania that were crippling a persons ability to earn a living and create a positive constructive life.

It is still not a guaranteed process – and no-one wants it to be.

The Governor and the Board want to feel certain that the stage of a person’s life that led to criminal charges is truly in the past – not waiting to re-emerge.

Of course, the more time that has gone by since the crimes, and the less serious the crimes – the better chance of a pardon.  But even non-violent felonies have been approved, and pardoned, depending on the facts of the case and the age of the offense.  The reverse of that is true as well – the more violent the crime and the more recent – the less chance one stands.

In conclusion, this Pardon Board and Governor have expedited and allowed the review of more Pardons than any previous administration.  They understand perhaps that the best recovery for Pennsylvania as we emerge from COVID is to have a work force where EVERYONE is working to their full potential.

We don’t know what the future holds, but a long era where politicians chanted ‘lock them up and throw away the key’ has evolved into a more understanding consideration of every persons true worth and not judging someone by the events of the worst time in their life.

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