|Posted:||December 12, 2018 10:15 AM|
|From:||Representative Justin J. Simmons|
|To:||All House members|
|Subject:||Minimum Eligibility Requirements for the Board of Pardons|
|I intend to re-introduce a measure that would institute minimum eligibility requirements for applicants seeking clemency from the Pennsylvania Board of Pardons (PA BOP) and the Governor.
Many of you may be surprised to learn that the PA BOP currently has no minimum eligibility requirements for applicants seeking clemency. While it may seem counterintuitive to institute such requirements, it is important to recognize that the Board is forced to operate with a limited number of members (A total of five), staff (A total of four), and resources. According to the PA BOP, it takes at least three (3) years for an application to be merit reviewed by the Board. This three (3) year period begins from the date that an application is filed, not received by the Board, which may further extend processing periods. At this writing, we have been informed that there is a total backlog of more than 1,000 applications filed and pending merit review by the Board. As such, the need to streamline this process and make it more efficient for both the PA BOP and prospective clemency applicants is clearly evident.
Specifically, what our measure proposes to do is to institute a tiered set of minimum eligibility requirements for those seeking to file an application for clemency with the PA Board of Pardons (excluding persons sentenced to death). They are as follows:
At this writing, more than three dozen states have instituted some form of minimum eligibility requirements for clemency applicants. As such, what we are proposing to do here is not a new and novel concept. Instead, it is our belief that working towards the goal of reducing the application backlog of the PA BOP and streamlining the application process itself will ultimately benefit the members of our society (reentrants) whose only form of legal recourse to obtain a “second chance” at redemption is through Pennsylvania’s executive pardon process.