If you or someone you love has been convicted of a crime and is now serving time in prison, you might be wondering if there is any further recourse. Most sentences allow the offender to appeal, but once appeals are exhausted, it might feel like there is no way back to the freedom you once had. Besides appealing your case, if you are able, applying for clemency is a viable option.
In February 2021, Governor Tom Wolf granted clemency to 13 people who had been sentenced to life in prison. He believed they had served the time necessary for their crimes and should now be able to live a fulfilling life outside of prison. In fact, several of the parolees were in their late 70s or 80s and had already served 20 – 30 years in prison.
How a Governor Grants Clemency
There are two types of clemency – pardons and commutations. If granted a pardon, the government discharges an individual from the penalties of having committed the crime. With a pardon, the state essentially forgives the offender and allows the offender to deny he was ever convicted of a crime. Commutations are a reduction in the offender's sentence. If approved, the offender would serve less prison or parole time.
In Pennsylvania, offenders will apply for clemency through the Board of Pardons. The Board is comprised of five individuals who will review the application and make a unanimous decision on whether clemency is suitable. Once the Board determines an offender is eligible for either a pardon or commutation of their sentence, they will pass the recommendations on to the Governor. The Governor does not have to grant clemency to every recommendation the Board gives them, but they are not allowed to bypass this process and hand out clemency as they see fit. The applications have to go through the Board of Pardons first.
How an Attorney Can Help
If someone close to you has been sentenced to life in prison and has served a large part of that sentence, they might be eligible for clemency. A skilled criminal defense attorney will understand the intricacies of the application for clemency, determine if you are preliminarily eligible to file, and then draft and file the application on your behalf. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the team at Lento Law Firm have the experience and skill required to aid you in your search for clemency. Don't try to navigate this tricky process on your own. Call 888-535-3686 today to schedule a consultation. Attorney Lento wants to help - let him.