Earlier this week one of my clients and I were notified that he received a full pardon for his criminal conviction after a hearing before the Board of Pardons and Paroles. He had a misdemeanor larceny from eight years ago. Once his pardon is finalized, he will no longer have a criminal record. While I prepared his application and represented him at the hearing, the client is the one who earned the pardon through his own hard work. Since that larceny conviction he has opened up and worked in businesses with his family and passed the citizenship exam.
Connecticut’s pardon power (to forgive, or erase criminal convictions) is vested in the Board of Pardons and Paroles. In other states, the governor has the power to pardon. The president has the sole pardon power for federal crimes (the president does not have the power to pardon state convictions, as recently publicized with the Steven Avery case when some fans asked Pres. Obama to pardon Mr. Avery who has state convictions).
The pardon process is a good system in that it encourages people with criminal convictions to stay out of trouble and improve their lives, and rewards them for doing so. For many people a criminal conviction is an unfortunate mistake or a reminder of a troubled past. A pardon enables one to become free of that conviction so that the past mistake no longer hinders the present or future.