Felons know how challenging it can be as they move forward in life with a felony on their record.
It seems like the conviction penalties follow them no matter what they do and affects all aspects of their life from finding a job, to obtaining housing, continuing their education, or obtaining a loan.
For felons who believe they deserve forgiveness for the offense, a pardon may offer hope.
This blog post will cover the process of applying for a pardon in Kentucky.
- What is a Pardon?
- Federal vs. State Pardon
- Application Process in Kentucky
- Effects of a Pardon
- Supporting the Felon after the Pardon Decision
What is a Pardon?
A pardon is a form of clemency forgiving a particular crime without actually clearing a felony record.
Felons who have a criminal conviction for which they believe the sentence was too harsh or not deserved given the circumstances can apply for a pardon.
Felons who feel they have paid their debt to society and are entitled to having any further possible punishments for their crime withdrawn may wish to consider petitioning the government for a pardon.
While a pardon does not erase the conviction, their criminal record will show that they have been legally forgiven for the crime and the restrictions imposed on a felon no longer apply.
This will allow them to have their right to vote and hold public office restored. They will also be allowed to own a firearm.
Nevertheless, their felony conviction will still be part of the public record and able to be viewed. Their felony conviction must still be reported in any situation inquiring about prior criminal history.
Federal vs. State Pardon
A pardon may be a federal or a state pardon depending on whether it is a federal or state offense.
For a federal pardon, a petition will go to the President of the United States. For a state crime in Kentucky, the application will go to the State Parole Board for approval.
A pardon application in Kentucky will not be considered until at least seven years have passed since the date of the completion of a felony sentence, including probation and paying any fines or restitution.
The main reason for the waiting period is so that a determination can be made as to whether felons have lived in a law-abiding manner since completing their sentence.
The Parole Board can grant a pardon for a crime committed in Kentucky only. A pardon for a crime committed in another state must be filed with that state.
In addition to the application, at least three letters of recommendation from individuals who can vouch for a felon’s character must be sent. These letters can be from an employer, judge, coworker, pastor, or teacher. They may not come from a family member or friend.
Complete information about all crimes for which felons are seeking a pardon must be listed with date of the crime, date of arrest, date of sentencing, and the sentence must be included.
For those with a criminal record in other states, felons can either contact the FBI for their records or the criminal history repository for any state in which they have previous convictions or arrests.
A personal statement in which felons document “extenuating circumstances” for their felony is mandatory. Felons must state the reason for seeking a pardon, and how the pardon will help them accomplish that.
They will need to provide evidence why it would be in the public’s best interest as well as their own to receive a pardon.
Any hardship they may be suffering as a result of their conviction is also important.
For example, felons may indicate how not receiving a pardon may prevent them from applying for a specific job, trade, or license, thus preventing them from being able to support their family.
They may need documentation, such as a letter from appropriate government or licensing authorities. They must have a clean criminal record after the time of the initial conviction.
Their personal background is extremely important. The nature, seriousness, and length of time since their conviction along with their overall criminal record will be considered.
The information needs to demonstrate their accomplishments, including educational achievement, stable employment, marriage and children, community involvement, charitable service, and law-abiding behavior.
Proof should be submitted, such as a GED certificate, marriage license, professional license, or awards.
Before submitting an application, it is important to consult an attorney for legal advice regarding the pardon application process.
Even though felons may be pardoned, the original offense can still be used against them if they commit another crime, and they will still be considered a repeat offender.
After completing the application, it is submitted to the Parole Board where it is sent to the prosecutor for a recommendation, which will be support, oppose, or take no action.
If a response from the prosecutor has not been received within 30 days, the Parole Board assumes there is no objection.
The investigation conducted by the Parole Board is a criminal background check. This consists of examination or prison records, credit, financial, mental, and psychological history.
An individual interview may be conducted in addition to possible interviews of some of those writing a letter of support. A hearing may or may not be held with the applicant’s mandatory attendance. Those in support of the applicant may attend as a display of their support.
Following any hearing, the application will be sent to the Governor for a decision, which is final.
Effects of a Pardon
If felons are successful in achieving a pardon, some things in their life will change.
If a pardon is granted, the conviction will remain on their record, but the decision will restore the right to:
- Serve on a jury
- Hold public office
- Bear arms
- Be admitted to a professional school
- Take the Civil Service Examination
- Have a passport
- Hold certain licenses, such as a liquor license
Obtaining a pardon will make it easier to find a job, get a loan, or buy a house. A pardon will make a significant difference in re-establishing their standing in the community.
Also, they will have the satisfaction of knowing they were successful at having the penalties for a felony removed from their record.
Supporting the Felon after the Pardon Decision
For families of felons who have achieved a pardon in Kentucky, reinforce their efforts and the difficulty they faced in applying for and persisting with the lengthy pardon process.
If they can work hard enough to accomplish that, they can achieve so much more.
For families of felons who have been turned down for a pardon, continue to be there and be supportive.
Do not allow your loved one to get discouraged or give up.
They have lived with their criminal record and the consequences this long, and they can continue their quest for a better life even without a pardon.
Continue to encourage them to live life the right way and not return to their criminal behavior. Don’t let them become one who returns to prison.
So what do you think about this blog post about how to apply for a pardon in Kentucky? Have you or someone you applied for a pardon in Kentucky? What was that like and were they successful? Please tell us in the comments below.