Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour issued 193 controversial pardons on January 10, 2012, his last day in office. Former Ohio Governor Ted Strickland, who left office in January 2011, also faced criticism when he granted 280 pardons. Both governors publicly acknowledged that they granted most of their pardons to rehabilitated ex-offenders who sought to overcome the civil consequences of their criminal convictions. These consequences, known as collateral consequences, impede the ability of millions of ex-offenders to find employment, housing or other important benefits.
This Article explores the increasingly important, but controversial, role that governors play in the battleground of collateral consequences. Their use of their redemptive pardon power has become critical to ex-offenders to overcome the collateral consequences of their convictions so they may reintegrate into society. This Article examines the redemptive pardon process through the lens of two ex-offenders who made the journey from conviction to pardon. As their stories reveal, the pardon process is long and arduous. This Article recommends that governors adopt an expedited process for redemptive pardons so ex-offenders may have more timely relief from the burden of their collateral consequences.
The redemptive pardon serves an important role for ex-offenders who seek a second chance, but it is impossible for governors to consider and to grant the pardon applications of millions of ex-offenders. States must offer other remedies to ex-offenders that can also serve to ameliorate the impact of collateral consequences. This Article recommends changes to judicial expungement statutes, using Ohio as a model, to offer this needed relief.
The redemptive pardon and judicial expungement process will help ex-offenders in their ongoing struggle with the collateral consequences of their convictions, but true relief can only occur if there is an end to collateral consequences. This Article urges states to abolish collateral consequences and it highlights Ohio’s efforts as a model for this change.
Criminal Law Bulletin
Joann M. Sahl, Battling Collateral Consequences: The Long Road to Redemption, 49 Criminal Law Bulletin, no. 3 (2013).