ERIE, Pa. — Lt. Gov. Mike Stack, in conjunction with local state representatives, hosted the Pathways to Pardons event at the Martin Luther King Center in Erie on Wednesday.
The Pennsylvania Board of Pardons states that “a pardon constitutes total forgiveness by the state” and “relieves an individual of the consequences.”
Stack said, “The Pathways to Pardons is a pathway to forgiveness, and it’s commonsense for how people can join our society and be a productive citizen. And that’s what we should all be about in Pennsylvania.”
A pardon alone does not clear one’s record of the conviction, but it allows the person to petition the court to have it removed.
State Rep. Ryan Bizzarro, D-3rd, said, “I think this is extremely important for Erie. It’s not just important for Erie, but it’s important for communities across the commonwealth to understand that we are interested in giving people a second chance for minor criminal offenses.”
Stack said, “We’re not being soft on crime. We’re being strong on justice. Just because someone did something stupid 20 years ago, they should still be able to coach their kids’ team today.”
State Rep. Pat Harkin, D-1st, said some constituents have shared their obstacles.
“One guy put a brick through a window of a state store in another state while he was college” said Harkins. “He’s 65, trying to get a hunting license, but he can’t. The only reason that he wants this is so he can teach his son how to hunt safely and successfully.”
Stack, who serves as chairperson of the Board of Pardons, said Pathways to Pardons helps people to navigate the application process; which usually takes about three years.
“We will help you in the process,” he said. “Don’t let it be daunting or something you’re confused about. Let us help you go through the process and make it fast and easy.”
The board said it makes effort to show respect to the victims of offenses through communication–in all cases in which it is possible–about the submission of applications by their offenders.
Gov. Tom Wolf granted 78 pardons in 2016.
State Rep. Flo Fabrizio, D-2nd, who was scheduled to speak, was unable to attend.
To learn more about clemency and the application process, visit the Pennsylvania Board of Pardons online at http://www.bop.pa.gov/.