2022 New Year Updates About the Pardon Process in PA:
In mid-December, the big news was that the Secretary of the Board of Pardons announced his immediate resignation. He was launching his campaign to run for Lieutenant Governor of Pennsylvania. Since then, Secretary Flood has decided NOT to run for Lieutenant Governor. Celeste Trudy has been appointed as the new Secretary of the Board of Pardons.
We also know that Lieutenant Governor Fetterman (Chairman of the Board of Pardons) has announced that he is running for Pennsylvania’s open Senate Seat.
Attorney General Joshua Shapiro (Board member) is running as a Democrat for Governor in a crowded field of Republican contenders. That is a lot of anticipated changes.
Let’s review the makeup of the Board of Pardons and who does what.
- When a Pardon Application is filed, it is acknowledged and tracked by the Secretary of the Board of Pardons (previously, Secretary Flood) and his staff.
- Various parts of PA’s probation and parole services conduct an investigation and interview about the application.
- Eventually, the Board will vote on whether to hold a public merit review hearing – that vote requires at least two positive votes to get the public hearing.
- After an interview, if 3 Board members approve of the application at the public hearing, it will be ‘recommended’ to the Governor.
- The Governor has the final decision.
Here is the makeup of the Board of Pardons:
- The Honorable John Fetterman, Lieutenant Governor of PA
- The Honorable Joshua Shapiro, Attorney General of PA
Three other appointees who will probably remain:
- Honorable Harris Gubernick, Corrections Expert
- Honorable John P. Williams, MD, Psychiatrist
- Honorable Marsha H. Grayson, Esquire, Victim Representative
Signed by the Governor (currently Governor Tom Wolf)
So, the Secretary holds an important, functional position – the loss of Secretary Flood is huge. It seems like Secretary Trudy has hit the ground running and is continuing the efficient work. He has implemented efficiencies and streamlined the Pardon process in PA. Of the Board members, two of the five are changing – Josh Shapiro and Lt. Governor Fetterman. The Governor will be new in 2024 too.
What does this mean?
Nothing has changed about the process or the timing – it still takes about two years to review a normal pardon application and 12 months to review an expedited pardon on a marijuana charge. The political leanings of the soon-to-be elected Board members (and Governor) are widely debated, but I am positive that the past five years of improvement in PA’s Pardon Process will continue, as every elected politician should want all able-bodied people to be maximally employed as we fight and recover from COVID.