Board of Pardons
In Pennsylvania, the Board of Pardons (BOP)
determines whether clemency should be recommended to the Governor for his/her approval or denial. The BOP is a separate independent agency with which the Office of the Victim Advocate (OVA) has developed a strong working relationship. OVA works with the BOP to ensure identification of victims, assists victims in receiving notification and provides support in that process.
Role of the Board of Pardons
The five members of the BOP review criminal cases from summary offenses to death penalty cases. The BOP determines if there is sufficient reason to recommend clemency or a pardon. Thus, the BOP only considers whether the applicant should be granted a pardon or have his/her sentenced reduced. The final decision in any pardon's case is made by the Governor. In Pennsylvania, Act 5 of 1995 mandates the BOP to provide notice to crime victims of the opportunity to offer prior comment on any application which has been granted a public hearing. The victim's comment may either be oral or written and must be considered by the BOP.
The BOP will forward any written comments they receive from a victim/survivor to OVA. The purpose for sharing the victim's comments is two-fold. First, OVA staff will review the comments with the Victim Advocate to determine if any further outreach to the victim or surviving family member is appropriate. Second, OVA staff will attempt to contact the victim to review the BOP process, assess the need for any additional outreach, make any appropriate referrals, and discuss any further assistance OVA may provide during the public hearing.
The Public Hearing
OVA offers accompaniment to those victims or family members who wish to attend the public hearing. Also, upon request of the victim, the Victim Advocate can represent the victim before the BOP
Overall, it is the goal of OVA to ensure the victim's voice becomes an integral part of the decision-making process at the victim's request.