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Governor Rauner’s Record on Executive Clemency Petitions

 Posted on September 10, 2018 in Uncategorized

Do you have an old crime on your record that is still negatively affecting your life every time someone runs a background check on you? Under Illinois law, some crimes can be expunged (that is, completely and permanently erased from your record), while others can at least be sealed from the view of the general public and potential private employers. However, many crimes are not eligible for expungement or sealing. Executive clemency is a “court of last resort” for people in that last group who want to clear their criminal record. It can also be used as a way to petition for a reduction in a person’s sentence, such as commuting a sentence of life imprisonment to time served.

Every year in Illinois, hundreds of people who have been convicted of crimes submit petitions for executive clemency; that is, they ask to receive a pardon from the governor of the state. While the majority of these petitions are rejected, each governor’s record regarding executive clemency is different.

Clemency Petitions Granted by Governors Blagojevich and Quinn

Former Governor Rod Blagojevich (2003–2009) processed around 1,200 petitions, pardoning 67 (6%) and leaving a large backlog of unprocessed petitions. Ironically, Blagojevich, who has been in federal prison since March 2012, recently petitioned President Trump to commute his 14-year prison term. Blagojevich was convicted in 2011 on 17 charges of public corruption.

Former Governor Pat Quinn (2009–2015) was far more productive and lenient. He reviewed nearly 5,000 petitions, granting over 36% of them. However, he still left a large backlog of unprocessed petitions.

Types of Crimes Pardoned by Governor Rauner

In his first two years in office, Governor Bruce Rauner (2015–present) cleared the entire backlog of executive clemency petitions. In that time, he granted just 80 pardons and three commutations out of a total of 2,333 clemency petitions. In other words, just over 3% of petitioners were successful.

In the fourth quarter of 2017, Rauner released 284 clemency decisions, granting pardons to 22 (8%). So far in 2018, Governor Rauner has announced 79 clemency decisions, granting just 11 pardons (14%).

The types of crimes pardoned by Governor Rauner include:

  • Minor drug crimes, including possession of a controlled substance in 1977.
  • Non-violent offenses, including theft , burglary, and forgery.
  • Battery or domestic battery.

Get Help from an Established Joliet Criminal Defense Attorney

Is there a crime on your record that is causing you to miss out on important life opportunities? If so, you should be sure to understand your options for expungement or sealing and determine whether you should consider the possibility of applying for a governor’s pardon. An experienced Will County criminal defense lawyer can help you understand whether executive clemency is a good option for you, or whether there is some other way to clear your criminal record. Call the Law Offices of Jack L. Zaremba, P.C. at 815-740-4025 to schedule a free consultation.

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