Stack Pursues Drive for Pardons

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LT.GOV. Mike Stack addressed a W. Philly audience on how to clear their record of past criminal offenses. Photo by Wendell Douglas

Councilman Kenyatta Johnson (D-2nd) and Lt. Gov. Mike Stack, chairman of the Board of Pardons, hosted the latest of a series of information sessions on Pathways to Pardons at Myers Recreation Center in Kingsessing last week. The pardons process is designed to give people with limited criminal records a second chance, subject to certain limitations. The information session will feature presentations on the importance of pardons in the drug and alcohol addiction-recovery process as well as information on pardons, commutations and expungements.

Recent legislation has made progress to reform the criminal justice system and increase opportunities for returning citizens, however, state expungement and sealing laws only apply to lower level crimes. A pardon is the only way to a clean record for anyone convicted of a felony or first-degree misdemeanor.

“This is an opportunity for state and local government to work in partnership to address the issue of re-entry,” said Johnson. “It removes barriers to provide returning citizens a second chance to be productive members of society.”

In previous administrations, the application backlog for a hearing before the Board of Pardons was five years long. Under Stack, progress has been made to reduce the wait time to three years even with a rise in applications.

After an applicant receives a pardon hearing, the Board of Pardons makes a recommendation to the governor on whether or not an applicant should be granted a pardon. If pardoned, the applicant can then petition for a clean record.

RECEIVING a governor’s citation for creating a dynamic re-entry program for ex-offenders were Zane Johnson and Thurmond Berry, 2nd and 3rd from L, flanked by Lt. Gov. Mike Stack, L, and Councilman Kenyatta Johnson.

Stack has been systematically staging workshops on the pardon process in every neighborhood of Philadelphia for many months.

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