Many people believe that the criminal justice system in the United States is broken. People are often tried and convicted of crimes and subject to harsh sentences, even for low-level crimes such as drug possession or theft. Criminal arrests and convictions can have significant effects on people’s lives, since a criminal record may prevent them from obtaining employment, education, or housing, and it may disqualify them from receiving professional licenses. Many people struggle to reintegrate into society after serving their sentences, and they may feel that they have no choice but to engage in further illegal activity, which could lead to additional criminal charges, convictions, and prison sentences.
To help address this issue, the state of Wisconsin allows the governor to grant pardons to certain offenders. During his time in office, Governor Tony Evers has issued a record number of pardons, and he continues to use his authority to grant clemency and provide people with second chances. Recently, he pardoned 159 people, bringing the total number of pardons he has issued to 933. This is in contrast to the previous governor, Scott Walker, who did not issue a single pardon during his time in office, and Governor Jim Doyle, who granted fewer than 300 pardons during his two terms.
What Are the Benefits of a Pardon?
In Wisconsin, a pardon is a form of clemency granted by the governor to an offender who has completed their sentence and demonstrated rehabilitation. A pardon restores some of the rights that were lost as a result of a criminal conviction, such as the right to vote, own firearms, hold public offices, or obtain professional licenses. While a pardon does not erase a person’s criminal record, it can serve as evidence of rehabilitation and good character. While prospective employers, landlords, or other parties may still be able to access a person’s criminal record when performing a background check, they will see that a pardon has been granted, and this may influence their decisions. The process for seeking a pardon can be complicated, but those who receive clemency may have a second chance and a path toward a brighter future.
How Can a Person Qualify for a Pardon?
Each governor may establish the requirements that convicts will need to meet to be eligible for pardons. Under Governor Evers, the eligibility requirements are:
The person must have been convicted of a felony. Misdemeanor convictions are not eligible for pardons unless they were charged and resolved at the same time as a felony conviction.
Five years must have passed since the person completed their criminal sentence. This includes a sentence of incarceration, as well as any applicable periods of parole, probation, or community supervision.
The person must not currently be required to register as a sex offender.
Applications for pardons may be submitted to the Pardon Advisory Board. The Board will review applications, hold hearings, and submit recommendations to the governor as to whether a pardon may be appropriate. In some cases, applications may be eligible for expedited review, and recommendations may be made without holding hearings. The governor will make the final decision about whether to grant a pardon to an applicant.
Contact Our Milwaukee, WI Pardon Application Lawyers
The process of applying for a pardon can be confusing, and applicants will need to make sure they submit the correct information. At Gimbel, Reilly, Guerin & Brown, LLP, our Milwaukee criminal law attorneys understand the steps followed in the pardon process, and we work with people who are applying for pardons to ensure that they can receive clemency. To learn how we can assist with pardons or other criminal matters, contact us at 414-271-1440 and arrange a consultation.