PHILADELPHIA BAR ASSOCIATION RESOLUTION CALLING ON THE GOVERNOR TO FORMALIZE THE PROCESS OF, AND COMMIT TO, DECIDING WITHIN NINETY DAYS, ALL PARDON APPLICATIONS FROM NON-INCARCERATED CITIZENS THAT HAVE BEEN RECOMMENDED BY THE PENNSYLVANIA BOARD OF PARDONS

WHEREAS, by Resolution unanimously adopted by the Board of Governors on April 25, 2019,1 the Philadelphia Bar Association called on the Board of Pardons to develop policies and procedures that will allow the Board 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 communities; and,

WHEREAS, the Economy League has documented the millions of dollars that flow to communities all across the Commonwealth simply by virtue of the Governor granting pardons, noting that “it has taken an average of 9.7 months from the date of the Board’s vote to recommend an applicant for pardon to the date of the Governor’s decision” and that “[i]f the processing time were reduced by 25%, those who received pardons over the past 10 years could have generated $6.9 million in additional income” benefitting not only themselves and their families, but the communities in which they live and work;2 and,

WHEREAS, by Resolution unanimously adopted by the Board on August 27, 2020, the Association renewed its call to accelerate the consideration of applications for pardon filed by non-incarcerated residents of Pennsylvania, and urged 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;3 and,

WHEREAS, the Honorable Tom Wolf, Governor of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, has demonstrated his commitment to giving second chances to those who have turned their lives around since they were involved with the criminal justice system, by signing 1,559 pardons to date, which is the most ever signed by any Governor in the history of Pennsylvania; and,

WHEREAS, as of March 1, 2021, Governor Wolf had made decisions on almost all of the pardons that had been recommended to him by the Board of Pardons at its most recent session in December 2020, demonstrating by this deed his commitment to deciding all pardon applications within ninety (90) days of decision by the Board of Pardons.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Board of Governors of the Philadelphia Bar Association applauds and again expresses its appreciation to the Governor, the Lieutenant Governor who chairs the Board of Pardons, and all members of the Board of Pardons and its Secretary, for the many reforms they have implemented over the past two years, greatly increasing not just access to the process but even more important the hopes for a second chance and better lives, and the speed with which applications for pardons by non-incarcerated individuals are investigated, reviewed, recommended and decided.

AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Philadelphia Bar Association calls on the Governor of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to join the Board of Pardons in taking immediate steps to formalize the process by which the Governor receives, reviews and decides pardon applications by non incarcerated individuals; and among other things, to establish, for this Governor and the ones to follow, policies and procedures that will ensure that those applications are decided within ninety (90) days of their favorable recommendation by the Board of Pardons.

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 other members of the Board of Pardons, 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: May 27, 2021

1 Philadelphia Bar Association Resolution Calling On The Pennsylvania Board Of Pardons To Expedite The Process By Which Pardon Applications From Non-Incarcerated Citizens Can Be Heard, https://www.philadelphiabar.org/page/ResApr19_1

2 Pardons as an Economic Investment Strategy: Evaluating a Decade of Data in Pennsylvania (April 2020) at p.34, http://economyleague.org/pardonimpact

3 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 https://www.philadelphiabar.org/page/ResAugust20_1