HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — A former legislative aide who did prison time for drug and weapons offenses has taken over as secretary to the Pennsylvania Board of Pardons amid efforts to streamline the clemency process, officials said Monday.
Democratic Lt. Gov. John Fetterman announced the appointment of Brandon Flood to the $89,000-a-year administrative post at a Capitol news conference.
Flood’s pardon was signed several weeks ago by Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf.
Flood, 36, who lives in Steelton, spent nine years in prison after being convicted of possession with intent to deliver cocaine and a firearms violation. He said he wanted to reassure victims and those who advocate for them about his appointment.
“The integrity of the clemency process will not be diminished in any way, shape or form,” Flood said at the announcement, adding that he knew firsthand “what it’s like to bear that scarlet letter of conviction on your sleeve.”
He has worked as a policy aide at the Department of General Services, a lobbyist and executive director of the state House’s Legislative Black Caucus.
Flood said the pardons process can be streamlined and wants to improve public awareness, while other reforms will require legislative approval in the Republican-controlled General Assembly.
Fetterman chairs the five-member board, which also includes Attorney General Josh Shapiro, a corrections expert, a psychiatrist, and a victim representative. The board secretary does not vote.
Majority approval is needed in most cases to recommend clemency, leaving the final OK to the governor. Cases that involve life sentences or the death penalty require board unanimity to go to Wolf.
Pardons restore to defendants certain legal rights, such as serving on a jury, buying a gun or holding public office. The clear their record, those who have received pardons must still apply for expungement.
Flood said he hoped to make the application process more efficient and improve public outreach and education. He also spoke of establishing “regional clemency consultation sites” to help prospective applicants get started.
He said the board could be improved by moving more worthy candidates ahead more quickly, and that an automatic expungement process may also be an improvement.
Flood said it cost him about $1,500 to get his own record expunged, a cost that some defendants are not able to pay.
The Pardons Board voted to do away with its $63 application fee last month.
Fetterman’s office said Flood illegally purchased a gun as protection after he was shot three times in Harrisburg, and police later found the gun during a traffic stop.
“Like many young men in our nation’s inner cities, I foolishly viewed the selling of illegal narcotics as a quick and easy way out of poverty,” Flood said.
His time behind bars included a stint at the State Correctional Institution-Chester.