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

Contact:John Norton,

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

HARRISBURG – FAMM Pennsylvania State Policy Director Maria Goellner sent a letter to Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf, Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman and Board of Pardons Secretary K. Celeste Trusty today with twelve recommendations and improvements to Pennsylvania’s clemency process.

“Pennsylvania has made great strides in clemency under Gov. Wolf after decades of incarcerated individuals seeking commutations being virtually ignored,” Goellner said. “We thank Governor Wolf, and in his last year of office, ask him to further that progress by working with Pennsylvania’s Department of Corrections and Board of Pardons to adopt common sense reforms to improve the clemency process while also keeping Pennsylvanians safe.”

FAMM is also urging the Board of Pardons to hold additional hearings — there are currently just three months of hearings scheduled, despite regulations indicating they should hold nine months of hearings.

“The Board of Pardons currently has a backlog of thousands of cases,” Goellner said. “We hope that scheduling shortcoming is rectified because families across Pennsylvania are suffering — waiting and hoping for their loved ones to receive a chance for clemency.”

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. Clemency is typically the only hope for relief for those serving long or life sentences. 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.

More about the history of clemency and extreme sentencing in Pennsylvania can be found in FAMM’s report Time for Justice: The Urgent Need for Second Chances in Pennsylvania’s Sentencing System here (Executive Summary here). 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.