PA Board of Pardons 2021 – Merit Review and Public Hearings

PA Board of Pardons 2021 – Merit Review and Public Hearings

The PA Board of Pardons has two kinds of public meetings – Merit Reviews and Public Hearings.

The pardon process begins when the pardon application is filed with the Board of Pardons. This begins a series of procedures to verify and authenticate the application:

  • The Pennsylvania Board of Probations and Parole receives a copy and will begin an investigation. This includes a criminal history and driving history review. They will also interview with the applicant about their present circumstances.

  • The District Attorney and the President Judge in the County of Conviction will also receive a copy to review to determine their position.

Then the Pardon Application will be forwarded to the 5 board members with the investigative information attached. At the Merit Review hearing the Board will vote to either give the Applicant a public hearing, or not. At least 2 of the 5 must vote in favor to schedule the public hearing.

Public Hearings are when the candidate has a chance to answer questions for the 5 Board Members. Originally, the applicant had to attend a hearing in Harrisburg and give a presentation and answer questions. This could take up 15 minutes. Since the Covid crisis in 2020, the Board met applicants virtually in a zoom call. Instead of a presentation, candidates were frequently asked if they would simply answer questions of the Board, if there were any. This sped up the hearing process and allowed the Board members to focus on specific concerns.

There are frequent scenarios that the Board is used to hearing:

“I was a young woman, and I fell in love with a man who dealt drugs and became abusive. I got caught up in the game…”

“I was a young punk who didn’t respect authority until I got locked up. Now I straightened my life out…”

“I was addicted to drugs and alcohol, but now I have been sober for years and my life is better…”

There are also scenarios that don’t start out so positively:

“The police framed me, and my lawyer sold me out. I was innocent and in the wrong place at the wrong time…”

While the Pardon application should always be truthful, the heart of it should be understanding how one’s behavior contributed to the criminal conduct and complaining about the system might be true, but focuses on the system instead of personal responsibility. Also presenting how much someone has changed their life in spite of the conviction is well received.

In any case involving drugs and alcohol, the Board may ask how the person is remaining sober and strong in recovery. If there are mental health issues, they may ask if there are prescribed medications and is the applicant taking them.

After the interview, the Board will vote. If at least 3 of the 5 Board members voted in favor of your application, it is forwarded to the Governor for his review. The Governor gets the final vote. If he issues a pardon, the applicant is free to file expungement petitions in the county of conviction. The expungement petition is signed by a County Judge and orders the Pennsylvania State Police to erase the record from the Central Repository.

Meanwhile, at the Board of Pardons “Merit Review” last week – a record 94% of the 142 pardon applicants were approved to move forward to their hearings that will now take place via Zoom on June 23-25.

The PA Board of Pardons has the following listed meeting dates left in 2021:

Wednesday, June 23, 2021 – Public Hearing – Zoom Meeting

Thursday, June 24, 2021 – Public Hearing – Zoom Meeting

Friday, June 25, 2021 – Public Hearing – Zoom Meeting

___________________________________________________________________________________

Thursday, August 5, 2021 – Merit Review Session – Skype Session 3:00 p.m.

Wednesday, September 22, 2021 – Public Hearing – Zoom Meeting

Thursday, September 23, 2021 – Public Hearing – Zoom Meeting

Friday, September 24, 2021 – Public Hearing – Zoom Meeting

___________________________________________________________________________________

Thursday, October 28, 2021 – Merit Review Session – Skype Session 3:00 p.m.

Tuesday, November 30, 2021 – Public Hearing – Zoom Meeting

Wednesday, December 1, 2021 – Public Hearing – Zoom Meeting

Thursday, December 2, 2021 – Public Hearing – Zoom Meeting

 

The PA Board of Pardons has two kinds of public meetings – Merit Reviews and Public Hearings.

The pardon process begins when the pardon application is filed with the Board of Pardons. This begins a series of procedures to verify and authenticate the application:

  • The Pennsylvania Board of Probations and Parole receives a copy and will begin an investigation. This includes a criminal history and driving history review. They will also interview with the applicant about their present circumstances.

  • The District Attorney and the President Judge in the County of Conviction will also receive a copy to review to determine their position.

Then the Pardon Application will be forwarded to the 5 board members with the investigative information attached. At the Merit Review hearing the Board will vote to either give the Applicant a public hearing, or not. At least 2 of the 5 must vote in favor to schedule the public hearing.

Public Hearings are when the candidate has a chance to answer questions for the 5 Board Members. Originally, the applicant had to attend a hearing in Harrisburg and give a presentation and answer questions. This could take up 15 minutes. Since the Covid crisis in 2020, the Board met applicants virtually in a zoom call. Instead of a presentation, candidates were frequently asked if they would simply answer questions of the Board, if there were any. This sped up the hearing process and allowed the Board members to focus on specific concerns.

There are frequent scenarios that the Board is used to hearing:

“I was a young woman, and I fell in love with a man who dealt drugs and became abusive. I got caught up in the game…”

“I was a young punk who didn’t respect authority until I got locked up. Now I straightened my life out…”

“I was addicted to drugs and alcohol, but now I have been sober for years and my life is better…”

There are also scenarios that don’t start out so positively:

“The police framed me, and my lawyer sold me out. I was innocent and in the wrong place at the wrong time…”

While the Pardon application should always be truthful, the heart of it should be understanding how one’s behavior contributed to the criminal conduct and complaining about the system might be true, but focuses on the system instead of personal responsibility. Also presenting how much someone has changed their life in spite of the conviction is well received.

In any case involving drugs and alcohol, the Board may ask how the person is remaining sober and strong in recovery. If there are mental health issues, they may ask if there are prescribed medications and is the applicant taking them.

After the interview, the Board will vote. If at least 3 of the 5 Board members voted in favor of your application, it is forwarded to the Governor for his review. The Governor gets the final vote. If he issues a pardon, the applicant is free to file expungement petitions in the county of conviction. The expungement petition is signed by a County Judge and orders the Pennsylvania State Police to erase the record from the Central Repository.

Meanwhile, at the Board of Pardons “Merit Review” last week – a record 94% of the 142 pardon applicants were approved to move forward to their hearings that will now take place via Zoom on June 23-25.

The PA Board of Pardons has the following listed meeting dates left in 2021:

Wednesday, June 23, 2021 – Public Hearing – Zoom Meeting

Thursday, June 24, 2021 – Public Hearing – Zoom Meeting

Friday, June 25, 2021 – Public Hearing – Zoom Meeting

___________________________________________________________________________________

Thursday, August 5, 2021 – Merit Review Session – Skype Session 3:00 p.m.

Wednesday, September 22, 2021 – Public Hearing – Zoom Meeting

Thursday, September 23, 2021 – Public Hearing – Zoom Meeting

Friday, September 24, 2021 – Public Hearing – Zoom Meeting

___________________________________________________________________________________

Thursday, October 28, 2021 – Merit Review Session – Skype Session 3:00 p.m.

Tuesday, November 30, 2021 – Public Hearing – Zoom Meeting

Wednesday, December 1, 2021 – Public Hearing – Zoom Meeting

Thursday, December 2, 2021 – Public Hearing – Zoom Meeting

 

The PA Board of Pardons has two kinds of public meetings – Merit Reviews and Public Hearings.

The pardon process begins when the pardon application is filed with the Board of Pardons. This begins a series of procedures to verify and authenticate the application:

  • The Pennsylvania Board of Probations and Parole receives a copy and will begin an investigation. This includes a criminal history and driving history review. They will also interview with the applicant about their present circumstances.

  • The District Attorney and the President Judge in the County of Conviction will also receive a copy to review to determine their position.

Then the Pardon Application will be forwarded to the 5 board members with the investigative information attached. At the Merit Review hearing the Board will vote to either give the Applicant a public hearing, or not. At least 2 of the 5 must vote in favor to schedule the public hearing.

Public Hearings are when the candidate has a chance to answer questions for the 5 Board Members. Originally, the applicant had to attend a hearing in Harrisburg and give a presentation and answer questions. This could take up 15 minutes. Since the Covid crisis in 2020, the Board met applicants virtually in a zoom call. Instead of a presentation, candidates were frequently asked if they would simply answer questions of the Board, if there were any. This sped up the hearing process and allowed the Board members to focus on specific concerns.

There are frequent scenarios that the Board is used to hearing:

“I was a young woman, and I fell in love with a man who dealt drugs and became abusive. I got caught up in the game…”

“I was a young punk who didn’t respect authority until I got locked up. Now I straightened my life out…”

“I was addicted to drugs and alcohol, but now I have been sober for years and my life is better…”

There are also scenarios that don’t start out so positively:

“The police framed me, and my lawyer sold me out. I was innocent and in the wrong place at the wrong time…”

While the Pardon application should always be truthful, the heart of it should be understanding how one’s behavior contributed to the criminal conduct and complaining about the system might be true, but focuses on the system instead of personal responsibility. Also presenting how much someone has changed their life in spite of the conviction is well received.

In any case involving drugs and alcohol, the Board may ask how the person is remaining sober and strong in recovery. If there are mental health issues, they may ask if there are prescribed medications and is the applicant taking them.

After the interview, the Board will vote. If at least 3 of the 5 Board members voted in favor of your application, it is forwarded to the Governor for his review. The Governor gets the final vote. If he issues a pardon, the applicant is free to file expungement petitions in the county of conviction. The expungement petition is signed by a County Judge and orders the Pennsylvania State Police to erase the record from the Central Repository.

Meanwhile, at the Board of Pardons “Merit Review” last week – a record 94% of the 142 pardon applicants were approved to move forward to their hearings that will now take place via Zoom on June 23-25.

The PA Board of Pardons has the following listed meeting dates left in 2021:

Wednesday, June 23, 2021 – Public Hearing – Zoom Meeting

Thursday, June 24, 2021 – Public Hearing – Zoom Meeting

Friday, June 25, 2021 – Public Hearing – Zoom Meeting

___________________________________________________________________________________

Thursday, August 5, 2021 – Merit Review Session – Skype Session 3:00 p.m.

Wednesday, September 22, 2021 – Public Hearing – Zoom Meeting

Thursday, September 23, 2021 – Public Hearing – Zoom Meeting

Friday, September 24, 2021 – Public Hearing – Zoom Meeting

___________________________________________________________________________________

Thursday, October 28, 2021 – Merit Review Session – Skype Session 3:00 p.m.

Tuesday, November 30, 2021 – Public Hearing – Zoom Meeting

Wednesday, December 1, 2021 – Public Hearing – Zoom Meeting

Thursday, December 2, 2021 – Public Hearing – Zoom Meeting

 

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