PHILADELPHIA BAR ASSOCIATION RESOLUTION CALLING FOR ADDITIONAL FISCAL YEAR 2021 FUNDING FOR THE BOARD OF PARDONS TO HIRE ADMINISTRATIVE STAFF IN ORDER TO REDUCE THE BACKLOG IN THE PROCESSING OF PARDON APPLICATIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS OF CLEMENCY
WHEREAS, the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania provides that only those who have been recommended by a majority of the Pennsylvania Board of Pardons (BOP) may be granted a pardon by the Governor1; and
WHEREAS, as a result of many important changes that the Board of Pardons (BOP) has made in the application form and process, the number of applications has tripled, and there is now a backlog of over 1000 applications awaiting administrative processing; and
WHEREAS, due to lack of adequate staff, the Board of Pardons currently takes approximately eight months to review, correct, accept and file an application, and, at the other end of the process, it is taking an average of over nine months from the date that the BOP votes to recommend a candidate to prepare the required paperwork and await the Governor’s decision; and
WHEREAS, on April 25, 2019, the Philadelphia Bar Association unanimously adopted a Resolution that called on the Board of Pardons to hear within one year from the date the application is filed as many applications as possible from non-incarcerated individuals who have been successfully living and working in our communities2; and
WHEREAS, the Economy League of Greater Philadelphia has issued a report finding that pardons added over $16 million to the local economy over the ten years that it studied (2008-2018), that it was taking an average of three years from filing to action by the Governor, and that decreasing the processing time by just 25% would contribute an additional $6.8 million3; and
WHEREAS, the Auditor General of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has similarly called for expanding the number of pardons granted and decreasing the processing time4;
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Board of Governors of the Philadelphia Bar Association renews its call to accelerate the consideration of applications for pardon filed by non-incarcerated residents of Pennsylvania, and urges the General Assembly promptly to provide whatever funds are necessary to ensure that as many applications as possible are reviewed and filed within thirty days of receipt by the Board of Pardons, that as many hearings as possible be held within one year of filing, and that all recommendations for pardon made by the Board of Pardons be delivered to the Governor within thirty days of the date of the votes thereon.
AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Philadelphia Bar Association authorizes the Chancellor or the Chancellor’s designee to communicate the content of this resolution to the Governor, the Lieutenant Governor, the Attorney General, the General Assembly, state and local public officials, other bar associations, chambers of commerce and trade associations, and the public at large, and to take such other action as may be appropriate.
PHILADELPHIA BAR ASSOCIATION
BOARD OF GOVERNORS
ADOPTED: August 27, 2020
1 Constitution of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Article IV, Section 9(a).
3 ECONOMY LEAGUE, PARDONS AS AN ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT STRATEGY: EVALUATING A DECADE OF DATA IN PENNSYLVANIA (Apr. 2020), http://economyleague.org/uploads/files/518454652334570386-impactofpardons-final.pdf.
4 EUGENE A. DEPASQUALE, CRIMINAL JUSTICE: REFORMS TO IMPROVE LIVES AND SAVE MONEY, AUDITOR GENERAL REPORT 20 (May 2020), https://www.paauditor.gov/Media/Default/Reports/RPT_CJR_060920_FINAL.pdf.