Those in Pennsylvania’s capital who know Brandon Flood as a bow-tied, bespectacled policy wonk with sartorial flair will be shocked to learn of his past, which includes boot camp for juvenile offenders, a physical scuffle with Harrisburg’s then-police chief, felony convictions and two lengthy prison stints for dealing crack cocaine and carrying an unlicensed gun.
Starting last week, Flood, 36, has a new job as secretary of the five-member Pennsylvania Board of Pardons. Philly.com reports that the appointment anchors one leg of a push in Harrisburg for criminal justice reform, aimed at giving more convicted felons a chance for clemency or to wipe their slate clean with a pardon.
Gov. Tom Wolf signed off on Flood’s own board-approved pardon, erasing his past convictions, a few weeks before Flood stepped in as secretary. Flood says he hopes that a number of new initiatives calling attention to Pennsylvania’s pardon process and making it easier to apply for one will show former inmates that the state is more focused on rewarding good post-prison behavior.
“If they see this [a pardon] as a viable option, they will continue to be productive citizens,” Flood said, who plans to use his own story as a powerful example of that. “They will see there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.”
Flood’s hiring was the brainchild of Pennsylvania’s new lieutenant governor, John Fetterman. The burly, black-shirted Braddock ex-mayor has honed in on his role as chairman of the Board of Pardons.
Twenty-five years ago, convicted murderer Reginald McFadden was granted his freedom by a Board of Pardons led by then-Lt. Gov. Mark Singel. McFadden almost immediately killed two people and raped a third, and commutations of life sentences ground to a virtual halt.