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If you have been convicted in the State of Ohio of an ADULT felony or misdemeanor offense, you may apply for clemency. If you are convicted of a juvenile offense or have a civil finding against you in Ohio, or a felony or misdemeanor in another state or by the federal government, then the clemency process in Ohio is not the correct remedy.
If the Parole Board receives an application for pardon, commutation or reprieve for a person for whom executive clemency was denied LESS THAN TWO YEARS earlier than the subsequent application was received, and the Parole Board does not believe that the application contains any grounds that were not or could not have been presented in the earlier application, then Ohio Administrative Code 5120:1-1-15 authorizes the Parole Board to return the application unprocessed. All applications received after two years from the date of the earlier review and denial shall be processed for review.
Individuals who apply for clemency do so for a variety of reasons, but the reasons generally involve the removal of some barrier to a legitimate activity caused by the criminal conviction. These barriers include prohibitions from obtaining or maintaining licensure or employment in a particular profession, volunteering, and the like. Other applicants have made significant life changes since the criminal conviction and seek to remove the conviction from the official records, as they wish to no longer be identified by that conviction.
When the Parole Board reviews your application, they will review the clemency investigation for details regarding your offense and overall criminal history. They will consider input from interested parties such as the sentencing judge, prosecutor, arresting agency and victim. They will consider the cited need for clemency, whether you have made positive strides in your life such as verification of continued education or letters of support from family, employers, or members of the community, and will also review any documents attached to the application to determine if there is supportive documentation to verify your claims.
The clemency investigation is not only an important component in the clemency review process, it is mandated by law. Ohio Revised Code Section 2967.07 requires a "thorough investigation into the propriety of granting a pardon, commutation or reprieve . . . " after an application has been filed. The Parole Board will utilize any available pre-sentence investigation or offender background investigation on an applicant and will supplement those investigations if necessary. Supplements are essential if a number of years have gone by since you were convicted. You want to provide the most accurate picture of who you are today when asking for clemency consideration.
A Parole Officer may contact you to conduct an interview and/or ask you to complete a questionnaire. To view the information contained in this questionnaire, please click "Questionnaire." Please feel free to print a copy of the questionnaire, complete it, and send it in with your application. It does help to "jump-start" the process.
The Clemency investigation contains a section that is called the Community Attitude. What this means is that the Parole Officer will be contacting the sentencing or administrative judge, prosecuting attorney and arresting agency in the county/city in which you were convicted to solicit their opinions regarding the application for clemency.
Please note, if the administrative judge or prosecuting attorney requests a copy of your application packet, it will be provided with the exception of any letters of support. Providing your application to these individuals is often helpful as it allows the judge and prosecutor to understand why you are seeking the remedy of clemency. In many situations there are a number of accomplishments of which they would not be aware, such as continued education. This allows them to make an informed decision prior to determining if they are willing to support, take no position, or oppose your request for clemency.
If the Parole Board determines your application merits further review at a hearing, then hearing notices will also be sent to the sentencing or administrative judge, prosecuting attorney or victim to advise that a hearing has been scheduled. These individuals can support, take no position or oppose your clemency request. They are also invited to attend your hearing where they can observe or present arguments either in support of or in opposition to clemency.
If, at any time, you decide you no longer want to pursue clemency, please write or email the Ohio Parole Board to advise that you are withdrawing your application. The process will be discontinued as soon as the request is received.
Once your application has been processed and investigation is completed, the application packet is forwarded to the Board for their review. The Parole Board Members decide by majority vote if the application contains sufficient merit to warrant further consideration at a hearing. If found without merit, an unfavorable recommendation is forwarded to the Governor.
If the Parole Board determines that an application warrants further review at a hearing, the applicant and/or legal representative is notified of the date and time of the clemency hearing. If the applicant is an inmate, an interview is conducted at the institution in which the inmate is incarcerated prior to or on the date of the hearing. Clemency hearings are conducted through video-conferencing from the Parole Board offices located at 770 West Broad Street, Columbus, Ohio with sites in Cleveland, Dayton, or Toledo. If you live out of the state or are unable to attend in-person, then you may also be interviewed by a Parole Board Member(s) via telephone.
Clemency hearings are conducted before at least a majority of the Parole Board Members and are conducted pursuant to the Parole Board's policy and procedure for clemency cases. Click here to view Parole Board policies).
Following a hearing, the Parole Board shall determine, by at least a majority vote, whether to submit to the Governor a favorable or unfavorable recommendation regarding the grant of clemency requested.
Any information discussed during a hearing (which includes telephone interviews) is summarized in the Board's Report and Recommendation to the Governor. Information discussed at a hearing is public record and will be released if requested.
Other information considered by the Board, but not discussed during the hearing, may still be included in the Board's Report and Recommendation to the Governor. This information is redacted if the information is determined to be confidential. Examples of confidential information include responses from Judges, the Prosecuting Attorney or Law Enforcement, Victim information, juvenile record, substance abuse treatment information, etc. If information is redacted, a black line will be drawn through/over the confidential information so it cannot be read.
The Parole Board prepares a report that is sent to the Governor's Office that documents the Board's recommendation for each application processed. These reports are public record and will be released upon request. Effective August 1, 2012, the Parole Board will automatically send a copy of its report and recommendation to the application after that recommendation has been forwarded to the Governor's Office.
The final decision for the granting or denial of clemency is solely that of the Governor. The final decision will be communicated in writing to the applicant and/or the legal representative by the Governor's Office.
If you have any other questions regarding the clemency process, please contact the Ohio Parole Board at 614-752-1200 or toll-free at 1-888-344-1441.
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