HARRISBURG — As criminal justice reform dominates the legislative agenda in the Capitol, state officials have named a new secretary to oversee Pennsylvania’s lengthy and often arduous pardons process.
Lt. Gov. John Fetterman announced Monday that he had appointed Brandon J. Flood, a onetime policy and legislative director, as the new secretary of the Board of Pardons.
Flood, said Fetterman, brings not just policy experience to the $89,000-a-year position, but personal experience with the process he will oversee. Flood, 36, was recently pardoned by Gov. Tom Wolf for convictions on three nonviolent crimes committed when he was a teenager and young adult.
“It didn’t require any courage on my part, it was just common sense,” Fetterman said of hiring Flood, a Harrisburg-area resident.
Fetterman said the pardons process is “the only remedy that currently exists for somebody to get back and fully participate. And what better example of a second chance than somebody who has taken that very same path and received that same second chance in order to help lead the reform and the changes that this board desperately needs?”
At a news conference in the state Capitol, Flood said he understands that some people might object to his appointment. Flood was pardoned for convictions of possession with intent to deliver cocaine when he was 17 and for illegally purchasing a firearm for self-defense when he was 22.
Flood stressed that his new office will continue to balance the needs of crime victims with the need to give people who have been incarcerated — and have turned their lives around — a shot to clear their records.
“The integrity of the clemency process will not be compromised or diminished in any way, shape, or form,” he said. “We will continue to not only consider the impact upon victims, but also live up to this restorative justice model.”
The office includes a staff of five and wades through hundreds of clemency applications each year. In the last three years, the state has fielded more than 1,500 clemency applications and held hundreds of hearings, state data show.
Among the issues Flood said he wants to tackle is clearing administrative and financial hurdles for expunging criminal records for people who have pardoned. As it stands, they are required to go to court and often pay steep fees.