Policy on Posthumous Pardon Applications

It is the general policy of the Department of Justice not to accept for processing applications for posthumous pardons for federal convictions. The policy against processing posthumous pardon petitions is grounded in the belief that the time of the officials involved in the clemency process is better spent on the pardon and commutation requests of living persons. Many posthumous pardon requests would likely be based on a claim of manifest injustice, and given that decades have passed since the commission of the offense and the historical record would have to be scoured objectively and comprehensively to investigate such claims, it is the Department’s position that the limited resources available to process applications for Presidential pardon are best dedicated to applications submitted by living persons who can truly benefit from a grant of clemency. The policy also recognizes that applications for posthumous pardons are less likely to involve the issues that generally are explored in routine pardon investigations (such as the recent, or ongoing, rehabilitative efforts of a defendant), and are therefore less likely to benefit from the investigative techniques commonly used in the pardon process.

Policy on pardons for Misdemeanor Federal Convictions

It is the general policy of the Department of Justice not to process applications for pardon of federal misdemeanor convictions, since most civil disabilities imposed as the result of a federal conviction are triggered by conviction for a felony offense rather than a misdemeanor crime. Given this fact, it is the view of the Department of Justice that the limited resources of the Office of the Pardon Attorney are best utilized to review and process applications for pardon of federal felony convictions, since in those circumstances, the relief requested would, if granted, remove civil disabilities and have a more meaningful effect upon the clemency recipient. In order to be considered for a waiver of this policy, an applicant must provide concrete evidence in his pardon application of a specific harm or disability suffered that is directly and solely attributable to the misdemeanor federal conviction.

Pardon Applications Submitted by Non-Residents of the United States

It is the general policy of the Department of Justice not to accept for processing applications for pardon submitted by non-residents of the United States. This policy is predicated upon the difficulty that an applicant’s residency outside the United States poses to the conduct of the type of thorough and exacting investigation into the applicant’s personal background and activities that is required in order to determine the applicant’s worthiness for pardon.
Updated January 13, 2015

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