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“Mistakes made long ago shouldn’t follow you for the rest of your life.”
 

– PA State Senator Judy Schwank

The Berks County Pardon Project seeks to assist individuals with a criminal record, who have served their sentence (including probation and parole) and are seeking a pardon or expungement of their records. The Berks County Pardon Project connects these individuals with community volunteer Pardon Coaches to aid them in their journey.

A pardon is a powerful tool for people who deserve a second chance. In Pennsylvania, the pardon process is free and more accessible than ever before. The Berks County Pardon Project was created to help individuals with a criminal record in our community move forward in their lives.

How we help
 

Who we are
The Berks Pardon Project was established in October 2021, through the guidance of the Philadelphia Lawyers for Social Equity (PLSE) and State Senator Judy Schwank, in cooperation with the Berks County District Attorney’s Office, the Berks County Bar Association, and Berks Connections/Pretrial Services.

What we do
We train volunteers (“Pardon Coaches”) so that they know the process, understand the factors the Board of Pardons considers, and help applicants submit the best possible pardon applications.

When did we start
We started meeting in March, held our first “Pardon Coach” training on October 13th and formally announced it to the Berks community on October 28th.

When did we start
We started meeting in March, held our first “Pardon Coach” training on October 13th and formally announced it to the Berks community on October 28th.

Where are we
Berks Connections/Pretrial Services (BCPS)
19 N. 6th Street
4th Floor
Reading, PA 19601
484-260-3860

Who we serve
Click here to read the criteria we use in deciding who is eligible for free service from our Pardon Coaches. In general, we help residents of Berks County who have turned their lives around from the time they were involved in the criminal justice system.

Did you know?
 

Pennsylvania is leading the nation in pardon reform. The application for a pardon is free, a lawyer is not necessary, and over 80% of the people going before the PA Board of Pardons actually end up with a pardon! Over a ten-year period, pardons brought over $16.5 million dollars in higher wages into communities all across the state. Berks deserves its fair share!

If you have ever pled guilty or been convicted of a state crime in Pennsylvania and have fully completed your sentence, you really should consider applying for a pardon. A Pardon is total forgiveness by the state and allows the court, state police, and FBI to erase your record. You will never have to “check the box” again!

Resources
 

Pardon application form and instructions

Video Library #1
Videos explaining how to fill out the form and where to go for information

Video Library #2
Videos of people who have gone through the process, sharing what they learned

Quick facts
 

What is a pardon?
A pardon means you have been forgiven by the government for the crime you committed and leads to having your convictions erased from your record. After a pardon, you don’t have to “check the box” when filling out an application, nor do you have to tell anyone that you were ever convicted. There are many ways that a pardon can help expand your opportunities and create a better life for yourself and your family. For more information about applying for a pardon, please email: PardonMeBerks@bcpsreentry.org.

What is a Pardon Coach?
It’s now much easier to request a pardon—and, since 2019, more than 8 out of 10 applicants who apply get a hearing. The key to success is the application. Almost everyone could use help telling their story of how they have changed since their initial involvement with the law. If you’re willing to be a volunteer Pardon Coach, the training is free and takes only an hour. Once you are trained and have taken your first client, you’ll get an extensive tool-kit to make your job easy. If you are interested in volunteering as a Pardon Coach, please email: BerksPardonCoach@bcpsreentry.org.

Questions? For more information, email: PardonMeBerks@bcpsreentry.org