In the United States, the power to pardon one convicted of a crime is set forth in No. 74 of Federalist Papers — “The President … is also to be authorized to grant “reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States, except in cases of impeachment.”
The power to pardon was thought to aid the president in bringing control to volatile situations. In 1794 farmers in Pennsylvania revolted against federal taxes assessed against their corn crops in what came to be known as the “Whiskey Rebellion”. President George Washington used the power to pardon for the first time, forgiving the revolting partners and helping to curtail the revolt.
John Adams pardoned soldiers who deserted during the Revolutionary War. Andrew Johnson pardoned confederate soldiers after the Civil War. President Carter granted a pardon to draft dodgers of the Vietnam War.
In Connecticut, the Board of Pardons was founded in 1883. The Governor, with the consent of either house of the General Assembly, appointed five members to the Board. All Board members had to be Connecticut residents. Three members had to be attorneys, one had to be trained or educated in one of the social sciences and one had to be a physician.
In 2004 the Board of Pardons was replaced by the Connecticut Board of Pardons and Paroles, consisting of 13 members appointed by the Governor with the advice and consent of the General Assembly. It should be noted that the Governor appoints the members but has no direct involvement with granting or denying a pardon. The Board’s powers to pardon are restricted to Connecticut felony or misdemeanor convictions. It may not pardon a federal or foreign state conviction.
There are two types of Pardons in Connecticut:
- The Expungement / Absolute Pardon erases your criminal record as if it never existed.
- The Provisional Pardon / Certificate of Employability does not erase one’s criminal record. It is a Connecticut State document that certifies that one should not be prevented from getting a job or, with a few exceptions, a professional or occupational license.
In 2017 the Connecticut Board of Pardons and Paroles received 1190 eligible applications and granted a total of 681 pardons:
Expedited Pardons: 320
Absolute Pardons with hearing: 268
Provisional Pardon / Certificate of Employability: 93
While one is not eligible for a pardon until 3 years after the last misdemeanor conviction or 5 years after the last felony conviction, it is never to early to start preparing. Being proactive during the 3-5-year period can make all the difference in convincing the Board to grant a pardon. What you do and how you do it makes a difference. Making positive contributions to the community by volunteering can help. Furthering your education and maintaining employment are among the many important factors that the Board considers. Consulting with an attorney to put a plan in action is invaluable.
The Pardons process is comprehensive. The application must be complete and accurate. While no attorney can guarantee success the attorneys at Bellenot & Boufford LLC can help you begin the process and give you the best chance of convincing the board to grant you a pardon.