A Pardon Will Soon Be Just a Click Away

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by Eldon Graham

N. BROAD STREET was the destination for those seeking information about “Pathway to Pardons” through the organization STOP (Sobriety Through OutPatient) hosted by State Rep. Leslie Acosta and Lt. Gov. Mike Stack. Pictured in photo are Melvin Wells Jr., Debbie Sharp, project director of STOP; Alan Paikin, legal counsel; Bob Stringer Jr, director of mental health; Stack, Acosta; and Vincent Faust.

N. BROAD STREET was the destination for those seeking information about “Pathway to Pardons” through the organization STOP (Sobriety Through OutPatient) hosted by State Rep. Leslie Acosta and Lt. Gov. Mike Stack. Pictured in photo are Melvin Wells Jr., Debbie Sharp, project director of STOP; Alan Paikin, legal counsel; Bob Stringer Jr, director of mental health; Stack, Acosta; and Vincent Faust.

Second chances for most people are sought after 10 times over by individuals or their loved ones. State Rep. Leslie Acosta (D-N. Phila.) and Lt. Gov. Mike Stack are trying their best to lend a hand.

The two Democratic politicians have partnered on a new initiative to allow Pennsylvanians to become more educated in the pardon process through the “Pathway to Pardons” education/advocacy initiative. The plan was on display at a town-hall meeting held Sept. 13 at the STOP organizational building at Broad & Huntingdon Streets. (STOP is an acronym for Sobriety Through OutPatient, an initiative started by Stack.)

Since Stack took office, he has been pushing tirelessly to improve the process for an individual to seek a pardon should they need one. During the meeting, he spoke from the heart about giving people what the government has been preaching but not entirely acting on.

“The important thing is, we have got to be about second chances,” he emphasized. “You know America has always said it’s the country of second chances; well, we haven’t seen it play out that way in the way America acts. For whatever reason, justice hasn’t been equal. You look at people who are behind bars or the people who get heavier sentences and you can clearly see it is not equal.”

His efforts have led him to increase the number of cases being reviewed and processed each quarter. He is also in the process of creating an online application process so that the pardons board staff can review and process cases faster. Stack’s office has added more staff to the pardons board and is designing even more ways to streamline the process.

Both Acosta and Stack have been working to improve the Pennsylvania pardon process. Acosta wanted to host the town-hall meeting with Stack in order to give people who normally don’t have easy access to information about the pardon process a leg up.

“It’s a very lengthy process, a very complicated process,” Acosta told the crowded audience inside the STOP headquarters. “Hopefully, with this initiative, the lieutenant governor and I embarked on will make this process more easier and break down some of the barriers for people that have these convictions and are trying to get a pardon, and move on to a more successful life.”

Acosta then dove into statistics about the prison system and how it directly involves her district. “In 2015, 2,000 folks were released from prison, 800 of them in my district. As we all know, these folks, they come out and there is no sustainability planed for them. It’s hard for them to find a job, and they find themselves right back into the system where they came from.” She continued, “We have to make it easier for these people, when they come out of prison, to sustain themselves and their families.”

Stack and Acosta hope that the pardon initiative can work just as well as other judicial organizations such as STOP and more. On Sept. 24, from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m., a criminal-record expungement clinic will be held at PEC’s Community Room, located at 325 N. 39th Street. Two additional clinics will take place on Oct. 15, and Nov. 5, both at PEC’s Families First Building, located at 3939 Warren Street. The clinics are sponsored by Philadelphia Lawyers for Social Equity. For more information, call (267) 777-589 or email cgreen@pec-cares.org.

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One Response to A Pardon Will Soon Be Just a Click Away

  1. XCE (X-Offenders for Community Empowerment) doing this work 20 years. Are they involved?

    Baba Bob Shipman Jr
    September 27, 2016 at 8:43 pm

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