Single Mom Granted Clemency in Ohio

Kelley Williams-Bolar, the Ohio single mother of two who was convicted of a felony for using her father’s address instead of her own in order to get her children into what she felt would be a safer school district, has been granted clemency by Gov. John Kasich. Williams-Bolar had originally been sentenced to 10 days in jail and three years probation for falsifying information.

The news comes after several months of growing public support for Williams-Bolar and a viral campaign, in which close to 185,000 people emailed Kasich’s office asking him to intervene on Williams-Bolar’s behalf.

At the time of her conviction, Williams-Bolar had no previous criminal history and had nearly earned a teaching license. In Ohio, however, convicted felons are not permitted to teach. So in addition to jail time, a large fine and years of probation, the conviction deprived Williams-Bolar and her family of the economic security she had worked so hard to earn. Thankfully, Gov. Kasich reduced the convictions to two misdemeanors, which means she’ll have a much better chance of keeping her current job as a teacher’s aide and continue her path toward becoming a teacher.

The governor’s clemency decision went against the unanimous recommendation of the Ohio Parole Board, which said last week that the conviction should remain in place. Considering the volume of email in support of Williams-Boler that Kasich received, it seems likely that the power of grassroots online activism played a key role in helping the governor make the right decision.

Photo of Kelley Williams-Bolar.


Anushay Hossain began her feminist career as an intern at the Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee (BRAC) where she worked on microfinance for women and girls in her native country, Bangladesh. A University of Virginia graduate, Anushay joined the Feminist Majority Foundation's Nobel Peace Prize nominated Campaign for Afghan Women before completing her MA in Gender and Development at the University of Sussex. She spent a year at the United Nations Development Fund for Women's (UNIFEM UK) London office before returning to Washington, DC where she invests the majority of her work analyzing the impact of US foreign policy on the health and rights of women and girls around the world.