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Press Release

Justice Department Announces Proposed Revision of Application for Presidential Pardons

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs

Today, Attorney General Merrick B. Garland announced the Justice Department’s proposed revision of the application for presidential pardons for those who have completed their federal sentences. The Attorney General made the announcement during remarks at a convening of the White House Legal Aid Interagency Roundtable. Over the past year, the department’s Office of the Pardon Attorney (Pardon) has coordinated with the Office for Access to Justice (ATJ) to make the first major revisions to the application form in decades. 

The revision is aimed at making the form more user-friendly and accessible. Pardon and ATJ extensively engaged with applicants, advocates, and stakeholders, and the revisions implement their important feedback. In revising the form, Pardon and ATJ have utilized a human-centered design approach and best practices in form design, incorporating access to justice principles and research. The revisions reflect ongoing work to expand access to justice through a department-wide effort to simplify public-facing forms and documents, consistent with the recommendations described in the 2022 and 2023 Legal Aid Interagency Roundtable Reports.

Notable changes to the proposed form include:

  • Eliminating the requirement for notarized signature pages, to reduce the burden on applicants and their character references;
  • Asking for less information about applicants’ histories, to streamline the application and make it easier to complete;
  • Reframing questions using plain language and eliminating legal jargon; and
  • Adding user-focused resources, including enhanced instructions and explanations, a checklist for completion and a table of contents.

Notice regarding the proposed revisions has been published in the Federal Register, and Pardon invites the public’s input on ways to continue to improve. Comments can be submitted through Jan. 16, 2024. The final form will be made available in the spring.

Pardon applications already submitted using the current form need not be resubmitted using the new form. Pardon will continue to process any application received using either form.

ATJ will continue to collaborate with Justice Department components to embed simplification principles and expand access to programs and activities across the department. To learn more about ATJ’s work, please visit the ATJ website. Updates on the work of the Pardon Attorney, or to learn more about the work of the Office of the Pardon Attorney, can be found at Office of the Pardon Attorney | Office of the Pardon Attorney (

Updated December 6, 2023

Access to Justice
Press Release Number: 23-1382