FAMM recommends clemency process reforms in letter to Governor Shapiro and other officials

For Media Inquiries:
John Norton, 202-999-4268

FAMM recommends clemency process reforms in letter to Governor Shapiro and other officials

HARRISBURG – FAMM Deputy Director of Policy Maria Goellner sent a letter today to Governor Josh Shapiro, Lieutenant Governor Austin Davis, Board of Pardons Secretary Shelley Watson and Secretary of the Department of Corrections Laurel R. Harry with 14 recommendations to expand and improve Pennsylvania’s clemency process.

“Clemency is the only hope for those serving extreme and life without parole sentences in Pennsylvania,” Goellner said. “The previous Administration made progress, and we want to see Governor Shapiro and Lieutenant Governor Austin Davis to keep the momentum going. There is a lot of work to do, and these safe improvements will make the clemency process more robust, transparent and efficient for Pennsylvania.”

FAMM is urging the Board of Pardons to clear the massive backlog of clemency applications by holding additional hearings and using expedited review classes.

“The top priority should be to clear the backlog of clemency applications,” Goellner said. “The best way to ensure that clemency candidates have their cases heard in a timely manner, especially those who are sick and elderly, is to hold as many hearings as possible this year and next.”

FAMM’s suggested reforms are based on consultation with government officials, incarcerated people, their family members, subject matter experts, advocacy groups and other stakeholders in the clemency process. FAMM’s recommendations focus primarily on commutations for people in prison, but many can also be applied to pardons.

Expanding clemency is a pillar of FAMM’s Second Chance Agenda, which seeks to create as many mechanisms as possible to give people second chances, reunite families, and reduce mass incarceration.

For more than three decades, FAMM has united the voices of affected families, the formerly incarcerated, and a range of stakeholders and advocates to fight for a more fair and effective justice system. FAMM has led the fight to reform extreme mandatory sentencing laws and to promote rehabilitation and dignity for all people in prison, 94 percent of whom will return to our neighborhoods one day.


FAMM is a national nonpartisan advocacy organization that promotes fair and effective criminal justice policies that safely reduce incarceration, save taxpayer dollars, and keep families together. Founded in 1991, FAMM has secured bold sentencing and prison reform across the country while elevating the voices of directly impacted individuals and families. | | @FAMMFoundation

1100 H Street NW, Suite 1000, Washington, D.C. 20005 | 202-822-6700