15:20 PM

Ohio State to support Gov. DeWine’s expedited pardon effort

The Ohio State University will assist with a new project of Gov. Mike DeWine’s that will expedite the process for select former criminal offenders to receive a pardon in Ohio.

“In Ohio today, there are people all over the state who made poor choices sometimes decades ago. They were convicted of crimes, completed their sentences, off probation and off parole, but they continue to pay for their past every day,” DeWine said. “Despite serving their sentences and becoming law-abiding citizens, their criminal records limit their opportunities.”

The Ohio Governor’s Expedited Pardon Project, which will operate in collaboration with the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, Ohio State and the University of Akron, will simplify the state’s lengthy pardon process for certain rehabilitated citizens who have consistently demonstrated that they’ve become contributing members of society. DeWine announced the program at the Moritz College of Law Tuesday.

It is estimated that 1 in 6 Ohioans, over 1.9 million, has a criminal conviction. DeWine said the process to receive a pardon can be lengthy, time consuming and complex.

“We intend to speed up the process for these individuals and reduce it to six months,” DeWine said.

The Moritz College of Law’s Drug Enforcement and Policy Center and the University of Akron School of Law’s Reentry Clinic will screen potential pardon candidates to ensure that they meet the project’s requirements. The universities will then provide free assistance to those identified as ideal candidates for a pardon.

College of Law Dean Lincoln L. Davies said Ohio State law students will assist in the screening process, which will allow them to get real-world experience in working with clients and seeing the direct impact of their work.

“Our partnership is created out of a shared interest to improve the pardon process and provide relief for our fellow Ohioans whose lives are hindered due to long-lasting, collateral consequences stemming from a long-ago mistake for which they have paid their debt to society,” Davies said.

Christopher J. Peters, dean of the Akron’s School of Law, agreed the universities have a shared responsibility to offer assistance on this project.

“Lawyers have exceptional authority in our democratic society and with that authority comes exceptional responsibility,” he said. “The pardon project brings this responsibility to life by mobilizing lawyers, legal educators and lawyers in training to help deserving Ohioans who have served their debt to society to reintegrate into that society.”

To apply for an expedited pardon, rehabilitated Ohio citizens must meet the following criteria:

  • Not have committed any additional crimes (excluding minor traffic citations) in at least the past 10 years.
  • Met all requirements of sentencing, such as the payment of fines or restitution.
  • Have a post-offense employment history or a compelling reason why he/she has not been employed.
  • Have a history of performing volunteer work and community service preferably that was not ordered by the court.
  • Have a specific reason for seeking a pardon.
  • Not have been convicted of any of a list of disqualifying offenses that include serious acts of violence or crimes against children.

Applicants who meet the criteria will receive an expedited hearing before the Ohio Parole Board, with the presumption that pre-screened candidates will receive a favorable recommendation. All cases will then be forwarded to DeWine for final consideration. The governor and Ohio Parole Board can choose to deny a clemency request as they deem appropriate.

The success of the project will be evaluated to determine the feasibility of offering it in other parts of the state.

For more information on the project, visit: ohioexpeditedpardon.org  

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