Believing strongly that decisions of the past shouldn’t keep Pennsylvanians from making progress, former Governor Tom Wolf granted his final 369 pardons last week. The 369 pardons signed bring his total to 2,540.
“I have taken this process very seriously — reviewing and giving careful thought to each and every one of these 2,540 pardons and the lives they will impact. Every single one of the Pennsylvanians who made it through the process truly deserves their second chance, and it’s been my honor to grant it,” said Gov. Wolf. “A record prevents positive forward motion in a person’s life, and can spark a repetitive cycle of defeat. I firmly believe that with restored rights, pardoned Pennsylvanians prove themselves by stepping up and giving back to our communities.”
These 2,540 pardons are the most pardons granted by a governor in the history of Pennsylvania. Before Governor Wolf, Governor Ed Rendell held the record with 1,122 pardons granted.
A pardon constitutes total forgiveness by the state for a criminal conviction, regardless of whether the sentence included time in prison, and allows for expungement of the related criminal record. Applying for a pardon is free for individuals seeking clemency — an update made during the Wolf Administration — and the application can be downloaded online. The process does not require a lawyer.
Governor Wolf has prioritized criminal justice reform throughout his administration and thanks to his leadership, Pennsylvania is a leader in pardon reform. Since taking office, Gov. Wolf has granted 2,540 pardons, 395 of those were part of the expedited review process for nonviolent marijuana-related offenses and 232 were a part of the PA Marijuana Pardon Project.
A 2020 report by the Economy League of Greater Philadelphia analyzing 10 years of pardons data found that pardons contributed $16.5 million to Pennsylvania’s economy over the past decade, at no cost to anyone.
Under the Wolf Administration the pardons process has been modernized so that the application process is more streamlined, and application fees are now waived. In 2019, the Board of Pardons introduced and Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman authorized the Expedited Review Program for Nonviolent Marijuana-Related Offenses, a program to speed up the pardons’ application process for people with nonviolent marijuana possession or paraphernalia convictions. In September 2022, Governor Wolf and Lt. Gov. Fetterman launched the PA Marijuana Pardon Project in an effort to quickly pardon Pennsylvanians with only minor marijuana convictions on their record.