FILE - Gov. Mike DeWine State of Ohio

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine speaks during the Ohio State of the State address at the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus, Ohio, Tuesday, March 5, 2019.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced Tuesday the creation of a program designed to speed up the process for rehabilitated citizens to receive a pardon from the state.

The Expedited Pardon Project will allow some convicted criminals to submit a pardon application through the program if that person has demonstrated good behavior, DeWine said during a Tuesday news conference. Within six months of the submission, all qualifying individuals will be given an expedited hearing before the Ohio Parole Board. If the board approves of the pardon, then DeWine can choose to either approve or deny the person a pardon.

During the hearing process, victims, judges and prosecutors will be able to voice opposition to the person receiving a pardon.

“There are decent people all over the state who are living in the shadow of a long-past and regretted mistake – people who, despite becoming law-abiding citizens, can’t get ahead because their criminal records are holding them back,” DeWine said. “Our new program will simplify and expedite the application process for certain rehabilitated citizens in an effort to give them the chance to pursue more career and educational opportunities, as well as to help them achieve an overall improved quality of life.”

To qualify, a person must meet a specific set of criteria and must not have committed one of the disqualifying offenses.

According to DeWine, a person must not have committed any other crimes within the past 10 years, excluding traffic violations; the person must have tried to meet all sentencing requirements, such as making payments for fines; the person must have an employment history or a valid reason for unemployment; the person must have a history of volunteer work and community service; and the person must provide a specific reason for seeking a pardon.

A person who committed a serious crime will not be eligible for an expedited pardon. Some of the disqualifying offenses include murder, rape, sexual battery, kidnapping, terrorism, domestic violence and human trafficking. Someone who has committed a disqualifying offense can still apply for a pardon, but will not have the process expedited.

The project will operate through a partnership between the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, Ohio State University and the University of Akron. The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law’s Drug Enforcement and Policy Center and the University of Akron School of Law’s Reentry Clinic will be tasked with screening applicants and providing free assistance to the potential candidates.

Staff Reporter

Tyler Arnold reports on Virginia and Ohio for The Center Square. He previously worked for the Cause of Action Institute and has been published in Business Insider, USA TODAY College, National Review Online and the Washington Free Beacon.