Saturday, February 27, 2016

Pennsylvania: Shameful Backlog

The Pittsburgh Post Gazette is reporting on one Corry Sanders who was elected to McKeesport City Council "but cannot serve because of a 23-year-old drug conviction" Mr. Sanders is now learning that "it takes far too long for the state pardons board to consider applications." Indeed, it has a "three-year backlog."

Welcome to America, Mr. Sanders.

In 1993, when he was 22 years old, Sanders pleaded no contest, served his sentence and was paroled in 1998. Since 1999:
... he [put] his criminal past behind him, [operated] a barbershop and been a mentor to young people, an officer in a business association and a deacon in his church. 
Community Legal Services of Philadelphia says that "it can take applicants as long as six months to obtain a copy of their criminal records." Applicants can then "wait two years before a follow-up interview is conducted by the board’s staff." Says the Gazette"
No one is suggesting that the pardons board should simply rubber-stamp requests, but the process seems to ignore the long pause it puts on the future of individuals seeking to make meaningful changes. Could a process be devised that moves faster? Can the problem be solved with more staff? That may be difficult, given tight state revenue, but there is real savings to society when all its members can become self-sufficient and productive. There should be a better way, even if it won’t come in time for Corry Sanders to serve on council. 
See full editorial here.

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