Local colleges collaborating with Erie County for ‘Pardon Project’

Local News

Two local universities are working with the Erie County Bar Association and others to make an initiative they call “The Pardon Project,” which could help Erie residents with non violent criminal records take steps toward a fresh start.

Criminal records have been linked to continuing a cycle of poverty for low-income families. Arrests and convictions often turn up in background checks when you apply for jobs.

Attorney Tim George of the Erie County Bar Association, said there’s an initiative to create an Erie County Pardon Project.

“By eliminating this impediment to a good job, we are helping create jobs, we’re helping employers, we’re helping the community at large,” George said. “Not just the family member who gets the good job, who gets the better housing, and can get that college education.”

Mercyhurst University, Gannon University and the Erie County Public Defender’s office are working to help individuals facing barriers to employment.

“In training students as pardon coaches, we’re able to help individuals work on their application and help navigate through the pardon process,” said Dr. Maria Garase, a professor in the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Mercyhurst University.

Applying to “The Pardon Project” is a multi-step process, all in an effort to ensure participants are ready to make a change.

“Accepting personal responsibility for the choices he or she made at the time the crime was committed,” George said. “Lawyers will help the applicant write that story of personal responsibility.”

And the second part?

“We can help you tell a story of your personal redemption,” George added. “What you’ve done since then to atone, to make things right, to give back to the community. You may be a candidate for a Governor’s pardon.”

On Monday, Aug. 30th, from 1:30 to 3 p.m., the Erie County Pardon Project will host a community presentation about the program.

For a link to tune into the zoom meeting, click HERE. Or use the following information:

  • Meeting ID: 832 2457 4428
  • Dial-in: 929 436 2866

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