Ohio Governer Takes Criminal Pardons Seriously

Monday, March 23, 2009

Landing a job with criminal records can be impossible. Employers turn away job applicants with arrest records.

With 494 clemency requests on his desk, Ohio governor Ted Strickland is taking his duty seriously. He said he will release decisions on 100 or more of those requests soon. "The clemency power given to the governor, and at the national level given to the president, is a fairly broad power, and that's why I think it must be used very, very carefully. It's an attempt to seek justice in a way the the legal system is not empowered to do," said Strickland.

45% of all clemency applications request full pardons. A pardon effectively expunges criminal records. Strickland takes his job seriously and considers all aspect of the applicant's request before issuing a decision, "It's across the board. The crimes that they have been convicted of are wide-ranging, all the way from nonviolent drug offenses to some brutal crimes, including murder, " he said. "Everyone has their own set of circumstances and their own stories."

One example is Raymond Marbury Jr., who applied for a pardon three years ago. He was convicted of writing bad checks, forgery and receiving stolen property in 1992. He has since earned his undergraduate and graduate degrees and worked as a paralegal. He purchased a home and made restitution. He is requesting a pardon so that his record might be expunged in an attempt to make it easier to qualify for a job.

Strickland admits that a criminal record is a barrier for employment, "I think in some cases, it's likely to be a huge impediment, but that does not mean that simply because of that, at least in my judgement, that clemency is merited or justified."

Strickland is a former prison psychologist and looks at every case diligently before making his decisions. He understand the responsibility he faces when clearing a criminal record effect many, not just the former criminal.


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