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McKeesport Man Closer To Getting Pardon After Decades-Old Offenses Stopped Him From Holding Office

Courtesy of Corry Sanders
Corry Sanders stands outside the Pennsylvania state capitol after the state pardons board voted to recommend him for a pardon.

The Pennsylvania Board of Pardons recommended a pardon Wednesday for a local man whose criminal record has stopped him from holding public office.

Corry Sanders, 49, won his election to McKeesport City Council in 2015, but state law barred him from taking the seat because he was convicted of drug-related offenses in the early 1990s.

Sanders said the board's decision was a relief, and that a pardon from Gov. Tom Wolf would free him from his past.

“I’m a positive, strong black man,” Sanders said. “I’m no longer that little kid that I was 19, 20 years ago.”

Sanders added that his story can show others with criminal records that they, too, can overcome their histories.

“I wanted people in my community and communities like mine to see and understand that the system, sometimes it works.” he said.

“If you keep moving forward and if you stay positive and you surround yourself with the right people and you keep steadfast and you pray on everything,” Sanders continued, “things will turn out and work in your favor in the end.”

While Wolf still must decide whether to grant Sanders’ pardon, Sanders, a Democrat, said he plans to run for McKeesport City Council again, or to seek higher office.

He said his experience in the criminal justice system would be an asset if elected. Sanders said he has “a better angle, a better view on a whole lot of things” than if he hadn’t gotten caught up in the system.

Sanders said lawmakers should make it possible for people who committed crimes 15 or 20 years ago to follow his example, even without receiving a pardon.

“You’ve got to know when to use common sense and good judgment and be empathetic about reality and really look at life like what it really is," Sanders said.

Sanders said he spent six years in prison and 10 years on parole for his past drug offenses. He has owned a barbershop, Kool Kutz, for 20 years and also works for the Allegheny County District Attorney’s Office and the Center for Victims as a community specialist on diversity and inclusion.