Center County’s Pardon Project discusses the creation and importance of the program | State College News


The Center County Pardon Project held a press conference on Friday to discuss the creation of the program as well as the importance of the work done by the program – to help ex-offenders “move their lives forward”.

The project works with people who have pleaded guilty or been convicted of a state crime in Pennsylvania and served their sentence by helping them apply for a pardon, which is full pardon for a crime, according to its website.

Several speakers discussed the program as well as its origins, how they are directly involved in the program, and how the program helps those who need help during the rehabilitation process.

Among the speakers was Gopal Balachandran, director of the internship program and co-director of the Criminal Justice Internship for the Indigents at Penn State Law.

Balachandran described how the program not only helps those who are pardoned, but also the community around them.

“This is an economic development program,” Balachandran said. “People who get a pardon can give back to their community. »

He also said that while pursuing a pardon can seem daunting, “part of the word we’re trying to get across about the pardons is that they’ve been very successful — the success rates in Pennsylvania are 80% order”.

Rep. Scott Conklin speaks during the Center County Pardon Project press conference outside the State College Municipal Building in State College, Pa., Friday, April 22, 2022.

The 80% success rate Balachandran is referring to is for those who have already passed the preliminary hearing process to appear before the Pennsylvania Board of Pardons.

“The initial stage of an audience is only about 67% successful, but when you get the audience, the success rate is much higher,” Balachandran said.

Celeste Trusty, secretary of the Pennsylvania Board of Pardons and advocate for transformation of the Pennsylvania legal system, spoke about the success of other pardon programs she has worked with, as well as the origins of the Center County Pardon Project.

“This is the eighth forgiveness project I’ve worked with in Pennsylvania.” faithful said. “[This one] was a student project that really spawned something that is now a county-wide project.

Trusty also provided numbers to show the successes of these programs.

“We are almost at 2,000 pardons granted by Governor Tom Wolf during his tenure,” Trusty said. “We just reached 300 pardons under the accelerated marijuana program.”

Representative Scott Conklin of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives was also among the speakers present, and he has been a member of the House since 2006 and is the Democratic chairman of the Gaming and Oversight Committee.

Center County Pardon Project Press Conference

Center County Pardon Project organizer Sharon Barney speaks during the Center County Pardon Project press conference in front of the State College Municipal Building in State College, Pa., Friday, April 22, 2022.

Conklin spoke about the impacts a criminal record and a pardon can have on his life.

“Your next door neighbor may have done something that’s preventing them from going hunting or getting the job they want,” Conklin said. “This organization gives these people the opportunity to live a good life.”

Another speaker was Krista Henry, a fellow with the program and an addiction survivor, who now works to help those who find themselves in situations similar to those she found herself in just nine years ago.

“As a criminal, you can’t just go back to school and be whatever you want to be,” Henry said. “For a person like me to receive a pardon would completely change his life, and I am not a special case.”

Henry, a Center County resident, said she has devoted much of her time over the past few years to helping those in need, and she is excited about the creation of the Pardon Project of Center County. .

“We look forward to making second chances a reality for as many people as possible.”


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