CINCINNATI — On Tuesday, Governor Mike DeWine announced the expansion of the Expedited Pardon Project into Cleveland, Dayton and Cincinnati.
The University of Cincinnati's College of Law, in partnership with the Ohio Justice & Policy Center has joined the list of organizations partnering with the Expedited Pardon Project.
The program seeks to cut out administrative hurdles and provide free legal help for qualified people seeking pardons for past criminal offenses.
DeWine launched the project in 2019. It initially only included partnerships with The Ohio State University, the University of Akron School of Law and the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction.
The goal of the program, according to a press release from DeWine's office, is to fast-track pardon applications for qualifying individuals who "have become law-abiding and contributing members of society." It allows those qualified to bypass the traditional pardon application process, which is frequently backlogged and slow.
Not everyone with a criminal charge on their record will qualify for the pardon through the program, however.
To apply, Ohio citizens must meet certain criteria:
- The person applying must have been released from prison or court supervision for at least 10 years before submitting an application.
- The applicant cannot have committed any additional crimes outside of minor traffic citations in the past 10 years.
- The person must have made "good faith efforts" to meet all requirements of their sentence, including paying any fines or restitution.
- The person must have an employment history since their criminal offense, or a compelling reason for not having been employed.
- The applicant must have a history of volunteer work or community service.
- The applicant cannot have committed any crimes considered disqualifying.
The crimes that don't qualify for pardons are:
Participation in the program doesn't guarantee anyone a pardon, the press release from DeWine's office said.
What it does do is guarantee successful applicants an expedited hearing with the Ohio Parole Board, where those impacted by each case — including victims, families, judges and prosecutors — will also have an opportunity to voice objections.
DeWine was able to expand the program thanks to an increase of $1 million in funding allotted in the state's operating budget. Law partners who have joined the program will receive grant funding to hire additional faculty and staff to oversee screening potential candidates and providing free legal help for those who meet the qualifications.
Since the project's start in 2019, 16 people have been pardoned and 86 others are in various stages of the application process, according to the press release.
Those interested in applying for a pardon through the Expedited Pardon Project can find more information here.