Function of the Board
the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the Board of Pardons reviews criminal cases,
except impeachment to determine whether clemency should be recommended to the
Governor for his approval or denial.
Board has tremendous power, as well as an awesome responsibility. Consequently,
many people view the Board as a "super court" able, in effect, to
adjust the sentence imposed by a lawfully constituted court of law. While the
Board may have this power, the record clearly illustrates it is not used
haphazardly or capriciously. Rather, the pardoning power has been used for
extenuating circumstances in which the court could not act. However, if there
is some legal technicality, such as the introduction of hearsay evidence,
illegal confession, illegal search and seizure, etc. the court has the
responsibility and the duty to resolve those matters.
Board of Pardons does not decide innocence or guilt. The Judicial System has
people equate hearings of the Board of Pardons with a formal hearing before a
Court of Law. Board hearings are not formal, but informal. Persons who come
before the Board are not sworn in or cross-examined. They appear for the
purpose of pleading on applicant's behalf or stating their opposition.
important point to remember is that the applicant has already been found guilty
and sentenced through the judicial process. The Board of Pardons determines
whether there are sufficient reasons to recommend mercy. Thus, the Board's only
consideration is whether the applicant should be granted a pardon or have their