Ohio Governor’s Expedited Pardon Project leads to nine pardons in first year

By Drug Enforcement and Policy Center Staff  |  Spring 2021

“I would like to be granted a pardon so that I will be free of the stigma attached with a felony conviction. Receiving a pardon would increase my career and employment opportunities.” -expedited pardon applicant

One year in, and despite challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ohio Governor’s Expedited Pardon Project (OGEPP) has helped nine deserving clients receive a pardon in less than half the time of the traditional pardon process. As the project enters its second year, there is hope that many more qualifying applicants will be able to secure a pardon through this simplified and accelerated pardon process in Ohio. Launched by Ohio Governor Mike DeWine in December of 2019 and facilitated by the Moritz College of Law Drug Enforcement and Policy Center (DEPC) and the Reentry Clinic at the University of Akron School of Law, the project aims to help law-abiding citizens hindered by a long-past mistake. “After working through pandemic challenges in year one, we expect the expedited pardon process will prove even more efficient and effective in the year ahead,” said DEPC Executive Director and Professor of Law Douglas A. Berman.

Within just a few months of the expedited pardon project’s launch, COVID-19 shut down court buildings and in-person events. Pandemic restrictions presented additional obstacles to the already difficult process of locating and accessing necessary police and court records. And with live events put on hold, the project team was unable to host in-person information sessions, pivoting instead to offering virtual events aimed at reentry and community support organizations.

Despite these challenges, staff, faculty, and students from both the Moritz College of Law and the Akron School of Law invested more than 1,700 hours into communicating with clients, working up applications, and supporting other project activities. Applicants and accepted clients came from 25 Ohio counties and were diverse in their demographics, experiences, and socioeconomic backgrounds. However, many applicants were united in their reasons for seeking a pardon. “I want to have a positive impact on the world around me and I do not want my record to get in the way of that,” said one applicant.

To better visualize the project’s first year, the team developed a program update report that covers applicant demographics, project highlights, and outlines the six phases of the pardon process, among other information. Below, we invite you to explore the report.

OGEPP at One Year_infographic_final_to Gov edits_Jan update
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For an accessible version of the report, click here.

The OGEPP is a collaboration between Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, DEPC, the Reentry Clinic at The University of Akron School of Law, and the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections. For more information on the Ohio Governor’s Expedited Pardon Project and to apply, visit: ohioexpeditedpardon.org.