Prior to Governor Tom Wolf’s entrance to office, it was incredibly difficult to receive a pardon. However, Governor Wolf is now giving his constituents the opportunity for the second chance that they many have long sought. In an effort to reduce the backlog of pardon applicants, since taking office, Governor Wolf has initiated a system that will focus on granting more pardons to citizens with criminal records and doing so more expeditiously.
Under the new system, pardons are becoming increasingly more available to Pennsylvanians who want to eliminate their criminal records. A process that used to take 4 years to complete is now supposed to be possible to complete within one year (we have not see that happen yet) and the Pardon Board is now supposed to be liberalizing the process in favor of granting more pardons (we haven’t seen this happen yet either). Someone who has a pardon granted can then expunge their criminal record so that it no longer appears on a rap sheet or background check, conceivably increasing that person’s lifetime earning capacity by thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars. This can also be beneficial with regard to housing, education, public assistance and loan/bank applications. If the new system works, anyone with an older criminal record, a minor criminal record, or a criminal record that can be shown to be unnecessary in light of the person’s changed life circumstances (i.e. a burglary committed at the age of 18 and now the person is 30, married with children, and has no other convictions) would be foolish not to investigate whether a Pardon might help that person eliminate her record. Below is an example of a Board of Pardons application that was recommended to the Governor for approval this past June.