“Speed up clemency, please” – my letter to the editor from the December 30, 2010 Chicago Sun-Times

“I am a solo practitioner attorney who devotes a significant portion of my practice to criminal records law.

I represent many individuals in need of executive clemency in order to “clean off” their criminal records. I sincerely appreciated the Dec. 28 editorial [“Decide quicker on clemency cases“] about the importance of Gov. Quinn’s continued focus on clearing the backlog of clemency petitions from his desk, many of which were left by his predecessor.

New petitions are being submitted in record numbers, thus increasing the number of undecided petitions drastically. I definitely appreciate that Gov. Quinn, since taking office, has been pushing through the backlog of these petitions in a reasonably efficient manner.

However, the fact remains that the individuals seeking relief through executive clemency are, in many cases, unable to work, secure housing, loans, etc., without this type of relief.

Essentially, their lives are at a standstill and they are completely at Gov. Quinn’s mercy. Many of the individuals whom I come to represent in their search for executive clemency are still being penalized, essentially, for transgressions that occurred decades ago. They’ve paid their debts to society and simply want to become productive members of society.

I’d like to applaud Gov. Quinn for his efforts with regard to deciding nearly 900 executive clemency petitions since taking office in 2009, but also like to take the opportunity to reaffirm the sentiment in the editorial: Gov. Quinn needs to redouble his efforts on deciding the approximately 2,800 remaining petitions just as quickly as possible.

The lives of my clients, in so many cases, depend upon his expedient actions.

Jorie K. Johnson,

Aurora[, IL]”

Full text of my letter to the editor can be found at http://www.suntimes.com/opinions/letters/3053350-474/clemency-petitions-gov-quinn-executive.html