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House of Representatives
Session of 2021 - 2022 Regular Session


Posted: November 10, 2021 11:55 AM
From: Representative Scott Conklin
To: All House members
Subject: Expanding the Board of Pardons
Since January of 2019, the Board of Pardons has seen an over 400% increase in the number of applications received from individuals seeking clemency. This significant upsurge has created a backlog of applications, and as a result, it now takes roughly two and a half years from the time an application for clemency is received by the board until the time the members of the board determine if a hearing will be granted for the applicant. These facts make it clear that the Board of Pardons in its current form is overburdened and is thus unable to efficiently accomplish its duties, resulting in many applicants waiting years to learn the result of their application.
In order to lessen the ever-increasing burden on the Board of Pardons and streamline the clemency process, I plan to introduce a two-part bill package that would expand the Board of Pardons by creating three regional Boards of Pardons, an Eastern, Central, and Western Board. These regional boards would have the same responsibilities as the main Board of Pardons, but they would only hear applications for clemency that involve convictions for non-violent and non-sexual offenses. The main Board of Pardons then, would hear all applications for clemency that involve sentences of death or life without parole, or convictions for crimes of violence or of a sexual nature. This modification would allow the main Board of Pardons to focus on applicants who require a more extensive vetting process and would allow the regional boards to create a less intensive process for applicants who were convicted of lesser crimes. The result would be a fairer and more efficient process for all involved.
The Board of Pardons plays a crucial role in providing formerly incarcerated individuals with a fresh start, and we must ensure that it is able to exercise that power competently, efficiently, and justly. Please join me in supporting this legislation to streamline the Board of Pardons and provide a second chance to those who deserve it.

I hope you will join me in sponsoring this legislation.

Document #1

Description: The first bill would amend the Constitution of Pennsylvania to create three regional Boards of Pardons and provide them with the duties and responsibilities described above. It would also clarify that the main Board of Pardons would only hear applications for clemency that involve sentences of death or life without parole, or convictions for crimes of violence or of a sexual nature.

Document #2

Description: The second bill would amend the necessary statute to reflect the changes made to the constitution.