(COLUMBUS, Ohio)—Ohio Governor Mike DeWine today announced that more than 100 pardons have been granted as part of the Ohio Governor’s Expedited Pardon Project.
Launched in 2019, Governor DeWine created the project to simplify and expedite the lengthy pardon application process for certain rehabilitated citizens who have consistently demonstrated that they’ve become law-abiding, contributing members of society in the years since their convictions.
As of today, 108 individuals have received expedited pardons through this unique program. The Ohio Governor’s Expedited Pardon Project eliminates administrative hurdles in the complex pardon application process and provides free one-on-one support from partnering law schools in Ohio. Pardon requests submitted through the Ohio Governor’s Expedited Pardon Project are also fast-tracked for consideration by the Ohio Parole Board and, ultimately, the governor.
“Those who’ve transformed their lives after a criminal conviction deserve an opportunity to live up to their God-given potential,” said Governor DeWine. “The pardons I’ve had the privilege of issuing as part of this program affirm the positive changes that the recipients have made in their post-conviction lives and allow them to let go of the mistakes that have been holding them back.”
Benefits of a pardon include expanded career, education, and volunteer opportunities.
Initially launched in partnership with the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law Drug Enforcement and Policy Center, and the University of Akron School of Law, the program expanded in 2021 to also include higher education support from Cleveland State University Cleveland-Marshall College of Law, the University of Dayton School of Law, and the Ohio Justice & Policy Center in partnership with the University of Cincinnati College of Law.
“The pardon applicants are so appreciative of the legal assistance they receive with navigating the application process and the pardon hearing,” said Joann Sahl, assistant director of the legal clinic at the University of Akron School of Law. “Many of the applicants report that they would not have finished the process without the help.”
Since 2019, 327 applicants have met the criteria to participate in the Ohio Governor’s Expedited Pardon Project with around 200 cases currently in various stages of the application process.
“Anyone who meets the criteria and has become a productive member of their community should consider pursuing a pardon now that this program creates an expedited pathway,” said Doug Berman, executive director of The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law Drug Enforcement and Policy Center.
Among the 108 individuals who’ve received a pardon through the Ohio Governor’s Expedited Pardon Project are Gene Hill of Miami County and Carla Thomas of Summit County.
“When I received my pardon, I cried like a baby,” said Hill. “It’s up there with the birth of my children and my daughter being valedictorian of her class. It’s a phenomenal feeling.”
“In the letters I wrote to the Governor, I asked for grace,” said Thomas. “I’ve accomplished so many things, but I was living with a black cloud over my head. To get a pardon after two decades feels amazing. I have a second shot at life now.”
To be accepted into the Ohio Governor’s Expedited Pardon Project, applicants must meet various program requirements. Those who do not qualify for the program may still apply for a pardon through the traditional application route.
Since the creation of the Ohio Governor’s Expedited Pardon Project, Ohio law has changed to allow the governor to automatically seal the records of those who have received a pardon. Anyone pardoned before September 2021 can also take steps to have their record sealed.
For more information on the Ohio Governor’s Expedited Pardon Project, including how to apply and minimum eligibility requirements, visit ohioexpeditedpardon.org.