The Penn Law Pardon Project empowers people to move past their prior convictions. Despite having already paid for their crimes in bail, jail time, and court costs, formerly convicted persons continue to face discrimination when they try to get jobs, go back to school, apply for housing, and register to vote. In Pennsylvania, the only way to remove a felony or non-summary misdemeanor conviction from a record is by receiving a pardon from the Governor.
The pardon process requires an extensive application, including several essays describing the conviction, explaining why the applicant is requesting a pardon, and persuading the Board that the applicant has “reformed” since the completion of parole or probation. Penn Law students work alongside the client and our supervising attorneys from Community Legal Services of Philadelphia (CLS) to request necessary documents and complete the application and essays. The three best things about the Pardon Project are: 1) direct client experience; 2) flexibility and freedom to meet with your clients when your schedule permits; 3) an opportunity to gain an intimate understanding of the hurdles that people who have long completed their sentences continue to face.