On December 3, Governor Mike DeWine announced an initiative that promises to revive the pardon power in Ohio and bring much-needed relief from collateral consequences to many hundreds of deserving individuals convicted over the years in that state. The Expedited Pardon Project, a collaboration between the Governor’s Office and the Drug Enforcement Policy Center at Ohio State University and the Reentry Clinic at The University of Akron School of Law, aspires to expedite the process by which people apply for a pardon under Ohio’s laws by enlisting law students to assist in preparing pardon applications. Once petitions are filed, the formal pardon process prescribed by statute will be collapsed into a period of months, with final action by the governor in less than a year.
This initiative could elevate Ohio into the small group of states that have productive and regular pardon programs, including states like Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia and South Carolina, where duly constituted pardon boards (some entirely independent of the governor) preside over programs that issue hundreds of pardons every year, granting relief to a high percentage of individuals that apply. Another handful of states, including Arkansas, Nebraska, and Nevada, have somewhat smaller pardon programs but still issue between 50 and 100 grants each year. With this expedited initiative, Ohio could quickly join their ranks, supplementing the state’s limited judicial sealing and certificate laws in furthering the goals of restoration and reintegration. It could also make the Ohio pardon process one of the most efficient in the nation.