South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard has announced a potentially groundbreaking new initiative designed to make it easier to apply for pardons. Like presidents, governors also have the ability to grant pardons. Now, an online application for a pardon is available through the South Dakota Department of Corrections, the first of its kind.
The online application allows convicts and their legal representatives to submit applications for pardons online, which ultimately advances South Dakota’s desire to go paperless. However, the fees to apply and obtain documents and assessments from the court will still apply.
The online application form is relatively easy to utilize and is meant to be user-friendly. Traci Fredrickson, a specialist in corrections at the South Dakota DOC in Sioux Falls, says:
“It as a paper application [before], they could access it online but they had to print it off and mail it in to us. It came with a checklist of things they needed to obtain. It made sense to us, but to the general public sometimes it’s very confusing and overwhelming.”
The online application makes the process that much simpler for the general public, which decreases the likelihood of any possible mistakes made during the process. The South Dakota government hopes the user-friendliness of the online application will help speed the laborious court process along.
Additionally, the online application comes with a checklist, which will help users identify which documents and what information is necessary to complete the application. With a physical application, the process often took up to six months in order to complete because applications were often sent in incomplete. The DOC would then be required to contact the applicant in order to help them identify what documentation and information was missing from the original application.
The new online application will therefore speed up the entire application process and help cases move smoothly through the system. It will also help to reduce South Dakota’s carbon footprint and lower the state’s expenses. In the typical office, an individual employee will cost his or her employer an average $1,300 a year in printing expenses.
This new online application for pardons opens the doors to South Dakota’s paperless possibilities. While many businesses have already embraced environmentally-friendly practices, it looks like state governments are slowly following suit.