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PRO.A / Pennsylvania Pardons Process – Pathways to Pardons

Pennsylvania Pardons Process – Pathways to Pardons

Do you know it is possible to seek a pardon for past convictions in Pennsylvania?


Manyツmembers of our recovery community, who have worked hard to change their lives and pay their debts to society, may be eligible and could benefit from consideration for a pardon. 70% of applicants are seeking a pardon for drug convictions. Additionally, 60% of applicants’ report substance use disorders. Many applicants are persons who committed crimes as a direct result of having a drug and alcohol problem. Oftentimes, individuals may apply for a pardon:

  • After achievingツsustainableツrecovery
  • Because they want to clear their name
  • Out of a needツto make it easier to obtain employment in order to provide for their families.

The process from application to a hearing takes about three years. This requires a significant commitment of time and energy from the applicant asking for consideration.

What is a Pardon?

A pardon is the action of an executive official of the government that mitigates or sets aside the punishment for a crime. The granting of a pardon by the Governor to a person who has committed a crime or who has been convicted of a crime is an act of clemency which restores the person窶冱 civil rights. In Pennsylvania, the Board of Pardons has the power to recommend to the Governor that a person be pardoned for any state conviction. For summary offenses, a pardon is not needed and persons should consider seeking an expungement at the county level.ツ ツ

1.ツthe action of forgiving or being forgiven for an error or offense. “He obtained pardon for his sins”.

What should I consider?ツ

  • How long has it been since my conviction? While there are no legislatively enacted requirements, typically five years is considered as a minimum in the pardons process.

Individuals should seriously begin to consider filing an application after two years have passed from their conviction.ツ

  • Have I paid all my fines and complied with all my court requirements?
  • Have I changed my life since the time of the offense? Am I willing to go through this process of open examination?

The Pardon process is not confidential; it is open to the public.

  • Did I complete treatment? Am I involved with ongoing recovery supports? Am I abstinent from all drugs of abuse including alcohol?
  • Why am I seeking clemency and why should the Board consider my request for a pardon?

Please download the document below for more information or visit the web page for the Pennsylvania Board of Pardons at:ツ

Information flyer on the Process:ツSeeking a Pardon

Pathways to Pardons:

The Office of Lieutenant Governor, PA Board of Pardons, and the PA Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs teamed up to create Pathways to Pardons in collaboration with PRO窶「A, PA Department of Corrections, PA Probation and Parole, Lawyers for Social Equity and many stakeholders throughout Pennsylvania.

In the upcoming months, there will be workshops and town hall meetings, hosted throughout the state, designed to provide an overview of the Pathway to Pardons initiative,. These workshops will include information on pardons, commutations and how the characteristics of sustained recoveryツalign with the elements of a pardon investigation. Please visit the PRO窶「A calendar page to locate “Pathway to Pardon Events.”

If you would like to be notified of upcoming workshops and future training events, please contact the PRO窶「A office and speak with our Program Coordinator, Marianna Horowitz, at (717)545-8929 ext.1

Additional resources and information for Recovery Community Organizations, who are interested in assisting persons seeking a Pardon in Pennsylvania, will be made available. Please continue to check back on this page for more information.


A commutation is for the reduction of a prison or parole sentence currently being served by an applicant. Approximately 15 percent of the clemency applications the Board receives are for commutation of sentences. Inmates serving life sentences must apply for commutation of their life sentence as their only means of release since there is no such thing as parole for lifers in Pennsylvania. Inmates serving indeterminate sentences also apply for commutation of their minimum and/or maximum sentence, but the Board generally finds parole to be the more appropriate avenue for their release.

For more information, visitツ

Additional information can be found at:

  • The Pennsylvania Board of Pardonsツfrequently asked questionsツ(FAQ) page. This page can be found here.
  • Criminal histories have long term consequences for people in recovery. However, opportunities are available to clear your record and move on with your life once you are in long term recovery! Read theツPRO窶「A Recovery and Criminal History Fact Sheet 2017 by clicking here.
  • These resources provide information on the pardon process beginning with the application and following the process to the public hearing and final recommendation.

ツォツ ツIf you are seeking a pardon and need to know where to start, please clickツhere.

ツォツ ツIf you are seeking a commutation and need to know where to start, please clickツhere.