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Justice Department Proposes Comprehensive Revision of Presidential Pardon Applications

07 Dec 2023, Jail News, by

Attorney General Garland announces major changes to the presidential pardon application, highlighting a user-friendly approach.

Justice Department Proposes Comprehensive Revision of Presidential Pardon Applications - Inmate Lookup

Attorney General Merrick Garland announced today the Justice Department’s proposal to revise the application process for presidential pardon, focusing on individuals who have completed their federal sentences. This announcement was made during the White House Legal Aid Interagency Roundtable.

According to the information on the Justice Department’s website, the Office of the Pardon Attorney (Pardon) has collaborated with the Office for Access to Justice (ATJ) over the past year to implement the first major revisions to the application form in decades. The primary goal of these revisions is to improve the user-friendliness and accessibility of the application.

Utilizing a human-centered design approach and best practices in form design, Pardon and ATJ engaged with applicants, advocates, and stakeholders to implement feedback. As stated on the Justice Department’s website, the revisions align with ongoing efforts across the department to simplify public-facing forms and documents, consistent with recommendations outlined in the 2022 and 2023 Legal Aid Interagency Roundtable Reports.

Notable changes to the proposed form, as outlined on the website, include:

  • Elimination of notarized signature pages to reduce the burden on applicants and their character references.
  • The application process is further streamlined by requesting less information about applicants’ histories.
  • Questions are reframed using plain language, eliminating legal jargon.
  • The form will also feature user-focused resources such as enhanced instructions and explanations, a completion checklist, and a table of contents.

The department has published a notice regarding the proposed revisions in the Federal Register. Pardon invites the public to provide input on enhancing the proposed changes, with comments accepted until January 16, 2024. The finalized form will be made available to the public in the spring.

For those who have already submitted presidential pardon applications using the current form, information on the Justice Department’s website clarifies that there is no need for resubmission using the new form. Any application submitted on either of the two forms will still be processed by Pardon.

ATJ will continue to work with Justice Department divisions to implement simplification approaches and broaden access to programs and activities within the department.