Office of the Pardon Attorney | Definition

Doc's CJ Glossary by Adam J. McKee
Course: Corrections

The Office of the Pardon Attorney assists the President in executing his power to pardon.

Understanding the Office of the Pardon Attorney

Within the federal government, the Office of the Pardon Attorney (OPA) holds a vital role. Both aiding the President and supporting justice, this office manages the process of granting pardons.

Role and Responsibility of the Pardon Attorney

The primary duty of the OPA is to assist the President in carrying out his power to pardon. This power is an important part of the U.S. criminal justice system. The President can use it to forgive federal crimes. Accordingly, the OPA helps manage this process, making sure it’s carried out fairly and efficiently.

Reviewing Pardon Applications

One key task of the OPA is to review applications for pardons. If a person has been convicted of a federal crime, they can apply for a pardon. When they do, the OPA will review their application. They look at things like the nature of the crime, the person’s behavior since their conviction, and their reasons for seeking a pardon.

Recommending Pardon Decisions

After reviewing an application, the OPA then makes a recommendation to the President. They might recommend granting the pardon, or they might advise against it. In the end, the President makes the final decision, but the OPA’s recommendation is a crucial factor.

Role in Criminal Justice

In the realm of criminal justice, the OPA plays an important role. Afterward, by managing the process of granting pardons, the OPA contributes to fairness and justice. A pardon can provide relief to a person who has turned their life around after a conviction. By carefully considering each application, the OPA helps ensure that this power is used wisely and well.


All in all, the Office of the Pardon Attorney is a significant part of our federal government and criminal justice system. By reviewing pardon applications and recommending decisions, the OPA assists the President in carrying out his power to pardon. Whether a pardon is granted can have a profound impact on a person’s life, making the work of the OPA critically important.

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Last Modified: 07/02/2023

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