State board welcomes pardon requests

50 of the 60 pardon requests were approved after conducting a merit review for each applicant.

Stack

Lt. Gov. Mike Stack announced that the state Board of Pardons recommended 50 Pennsylvanians for pardons, after hearing requests from 60 individuals.

“I thank my fellow board members for their work, which can be difficult and draining,” Stack said. “A long-ago criminal conviction can be a considerable weight on someone trying to turn their lives around, but the integrity of the criminal justice system must be protected as well.”

Early in the process, there is an investigation by the Board of Probation and Parole.

The Board of Pardons conducts a merit review before agreeing to a public hearing.

In the public hearings, applicants are given 15 minutes to come in front of the board in the Capitol’s Supreme Court room to present their cases for pardon and answer questions from the board.

At the end of each session, the board votes on whether to recommend the applicant for pardon to the governor, who has the final say. An individual’s guilt or innocence is not discussed.

Stack, who chairs the board, said the next public hearings will be from Sept. 13–15.

The lieutenant governor had a recent “Pathways to Pardons” event at Plumbers Union Local 690, on Southampton Road. He was joined by his chief of staff, Matt Franchak; state Sen. John Sabatina Jr.; pro bono attorney Zac Shaffer; and officials from Somerton-based Self Help Movement.

Stack, a former state senator who became lieutenant governor in 2015, said it’s too tough to pass legislation related to pardons. Former Gov. Tom Corbett, he said, did not prioritize pardon hearings.

Stack described pardons as a “silver bullet.”

“Let’s speed up the process,” he said.

Pardon applications, he said, are for people who are sincere, have changed and have turned their lives around.

“In most cases,” he said, “you are going to get a pardon.”

Stack is joined on the board by Attorney General Josh Shapiro; Harris Gubernick, former director of the Bucks County Department of Corrections; Dr. John Williams, a psychiatrist; and Marsha Grayson, a Pittsburgh lawyer.

For more information on the pardons process, visit http://www.bop.pa.gov ••