For the Defense - Vol. 5, Issue 4 - 43

(b) The Board of Pardons shall consist of the Lieutenant Governor who shall be chairman, the Attorney
General and three members appointed by the Governor with the consent of a majority of the members
elected to the Senate for terms of six years. The three members appointed by the Governor shall be
residents of Pennsylvania. One shall be a crime victim, one a corrections expert and the third a doctor
of medicine, psychiatrist or psychologist. The board shall keep records of its actions, which shall at all
times be open for public inspection.16
Because the Board of Pardons (BOP) is a " constitutional agency, " the courts have ruled that the legislature
cannot regulate it,17 the courts cannot review it,18 and it can pretty much do anything it wants, whenever it
wants, without ever having to explain why.19 All that's required is that it act openly and keep public record
of what it does which, in all but two areas, requires only the affirmative vote of 3 of its 5 members. After
that, clemency is up to the Governor, for whom there are no requirements of any kind.
As Pennsylvania's Auditor General noted in his June 2020 report Criminal Justice: Reforms to Improve
Lives and Save Money, " The pardons process in Pennsylvania has remained virtually the same since its
inception in 1872-nearly 150 years. " 20 All that changed when John Fetterman became Pennsylvania's Lt.
Governor and became the Chairperson of the Board of Pardons in February 2019.
The changes that followed have been called " revolutionary. " 21 Today, the application form is simple,
straightforward, and available for free over the Internet. All filing costs have been waived. Applications
have more than doubled. Processing times have been cut in half, from four to just over two years. Hearings
are being held via Zoom instead of in the Supreme Courtroom in Harrisburg. Lawyers are not required. The
BOP has recommended scores of pardon applicants in just a single vote.
Most remarkably of all, the Board has recommended approval of over 80% of the pardon applications
they have heard since February 2019, and the Governor has signed 99% of them.

Rebalancing the Scales
A bad choice in 1998 led to a conviction for theft/embezzlement that has been holding
Sheila back for over two decades. She's been unemployable despite the 4.0, summa cum
laude record she achieved in college while completing her sentence of probation. She's
held a number of jobs since then, but they've all been low-pay, no-benefits; last in, she's
always first-out when staff is reduced; and when COVID-19 hit, she lost her last job as
a bus driver. She knew about pardons but found the process overwhelming; she didn't
want to try if she was just going to get rejected. With the help and encouragement of a
pardon coach volunteering with PLSE, she filed her pardon application last month.
In its report, the Economy League of Greater Philadelphia urged the Board of Pardons to continue its
reforms, reach more people, and accelerate the process. Those recommendations were quickly seconded
by Pennsylvania's Secretary of Labor & Industry in April,22 the Auditor General in June,23 and the statewide
Workforce Development Board in August.24 Then PLSE released the results of its ten-year recidivism study
that confirmed that those who applied for pardons-not only those who received them, but also those who
did not-raised no reason for concern about public safety25 (primarily because they had completed their
sentences years if not decades earlier26), providing even greater cause to expand the use of pardons.
In just twenty months, we have come an unimaginably long way towards reforming the pardon system-
and Pennsylvania is the first state in the country to do so. Pardons are now understood to be an essential
part of workforce development and neighborhood investment. The Board is on track to recommend over
500 people for pardons in just one year-the most ever in Pennsylvania, by far.27
Without question, this is the result of the energy, creativity and commitment of Lt. Governor John
Fetterman, Attorney General Josh Shapiro, the three other members of the Board of Pardons, and Board
Secretary Brandon Flood, himself the recipient of a pardon. But they cannot work this social change alone.
What is needed now are coaches to guide applicants through the application form and process-people
who know what the Board of Pardons is looking for and who are willing to help those with records

Vol. 5, Issue 4 l For The Defense

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For the Defense - Vol. 5, Issue 4

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of For the Defense - Vol. 5, Issue 4

Contents
For the Defense - Vol. 5, Issue 4 - 1
For the Defense - Vol. 5, Issue 4 - 2
For the Defense - Vol. 5, Issue 4 - Contents
For the Defense - Vol. 5, Issue 4 - 4
For the Defense - Vol. 5, Issue 4 - 5
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For the Defense - Vol. 5, Issue 4 - 52
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/PACDL/FORTHEDEFENSE_vol7_issue3_2022
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/PACDL/FORTHEDEFENSE_vol7_issue2_2022
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/PACDL/FORTHEDEFENSE_vol7_issue1_2022
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/PACDL/FORTHEDEFENSE_vol6_issue4_2021
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/PACDL/FORTHEDEFENSE_vol6_issue3_2021
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/PACDL/FORTHEDEFENSE_vol6_issue2_2021
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/PACDL/FORTHEDEFENSE_vol6_issue1_2021
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/PACDL/FORTHEDEFENSE_vol5_issue4_2020
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/PACDL/FORTHEDEFENSE_vol5_issue3_2020
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/PACDL/FORTHEDEFENSE_vol5_issue2_2020
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/PACDL/FORTHEDEFENSE_vol5_issue1_2020
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/PACDL/FORTHEDEFENSE_vol4_issue4_2019
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/PACDL/FORTHEDEFENSE_vol4_issue3_2019
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/PACDL/FORTHEDEFENSE_vol4_issue2_2019
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/PACDL/FORTHEDEFENSE_vol4_issue1_2019
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/PACDL/FORTHEDEFENSE_vol3_issue4_2018
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/PACDL/FORTHEDEFENSE_vol3_issue3_2018
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/PACDL/FORTHEDEFENSE_vol3_issue2_2018
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/PACDL/FORTHEDEFENSE_vol3_issue1_2018
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pacdl/FORTHEDEFENSE_vol2_issue4_2017
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pacdl/FORTHEDEFENSE_vol2_issue3_2017
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pacdl/FORTHEDEFENSE_vol2_issue2_2017
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pacdl/FORTHEDEFENSE_vol2_issue1_2017
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/PACDL/FORTHEDEFENSE_vol1_issue4_2016
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/PACDL/FORTHEDEFENSE_vol1_issue3_2016
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/PACDL/FORTHEDEFENSE_vol1_issue2_2016
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/PACDL/FORTHEDEFENSE_vol1_issue1_2016
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