A petition for Executive Clemency is how a person requests a pardon from the governor for a conviction that cannot be removed through the expungement or sealing process. The petition for Executive Clemency is a typewritten, detailed petition about a person’s criminal record and life history outside of that criminal record. Only certain convictions can be sealed through the court, removing criminal records from public view so employers and landlords conducting background checks have no access. The only way to clear all other convictions is to be granted a pardon (Clemency) from the governor authorizing a formal expungement. This is the purpose of an Executive Clemency petition.
The process of applying for Executive Clemency includes filing a petition with the Prisoner Review Board (PRB), an agency in Illinois with members appointed by the governor. The Prisoner Review Board holds hearings four times per year (January and July in Springfield and April and October in Chicago). A person is put on a hearing docket by filing before the deadline for each hearing date. The board reviews, processes and submits confidential recommendations to the governor on all Executive Clemency petitions. It is recommended that the petition is filed approximately 2 1/2 months before the hearings at least. The governor is under no timeframe to make a decision on your petition for Executive Clemency.
At a hearing before the prisoner review board the petitioner can have his or her supporters , as well as anyone opposing the petition , speak before the prisoner review board on the petitioner’s behalf or against them. After receiving and considering the petition, any supporting documentation that has been provided in the Petition, oral testimony, and any other relevant information, the prisoner review board makes a confidential recommendation to the governor regarding the petition.
If Clemency is granted, with authorization to expunge, you can expunge a conviction on your record. Both misdemeanor conviction and felony convictions may be expunged after Executive Clemency is granted. The expungement portion happens through the court and removes your records from public view. Only law enforcement will have access to the records after that.
There are no timeframes for filing a petition for Executive Clemency. However, it is best to wait a minimum of five years from the date of conviction or release from prison with no criminal history to have the greatest chance of success. Most pardons are given to those whose convictions are greater than 10 years old.