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November 26, 2023

Pardon stories focused on humans to close out the Thanksgiving weekend

In this post a few days ago, I bemoaned the recent headlines about governors and presidents exercising clemency that were mostly about "fowl" pardons.  But in the days that followed, I was pleased to see a couple of notable new stories about actual humans getting pardoned by governors with notable clemency records.  Here are headlines and some details:

From Missouri, "Missouri governor granting pardons at pace not seen since WWII era":

For a dozen years as a rural sheriff, Mike Parson was the face of justice, the man ultimately responsible for catching and locking up local lawbreakers. Now governor, Parson also has become the face of mercy by pardoning more than 600 people in the past three years, more than any Missouri governor since the 1940s.

“I still believe in law and order. I believe criminals need to be treated as such, and they’ve got accountability,” Parson said in an interview with The Associated Press. But “it doesn’t mean they’re a criminal all their life,” Parson added. “I think you’ve got to be able to look at it.”...

Parson's staff began systematically tackling the backlog in December 2020, even as more requests poured in. They set a goal of evaluating around 100 cases each month, weighing applicants' work and education history, community involvement, character references and contrition for their crimes. The types of crimes, how young offenders were and how much time had passed also came into play as Parson made his decisions. So far, Parson has denied about 2,400 clemency requests while granting 613 pardons and 20 commutations.

From Wisconsin, "Gov. Tony Evers extends pardons to 1,111 with 82 more ahead of Thanksgiving"

Gov. Tony Evers extended his pardon count to 1,111 with 82 more announced ahead of Thanksgiving, mostly for people convicted of low-level drug offenses or minor theft. “It continues to be a privilege to hear about individuals’ lives, work, and what they have done to overcome their past mistakes and build positive, rewarding lives for themselves and their families,” said the Democratic governor, who has pardoned far more people than any of his predecessors.

The pardons announced Wednesday include a carpenter who was found with marijuana in his home over 20 years ago, a middle school teacher who tried to cash a fraudulent check in her late teens and a general labor supervisor who stole propellers from boats over two decades ago. About one third of the 82 pardons were for people convicted of possessing or selling marijuana. Another third had been convicted of possessing or selling other controlled substances.

November 26, 2023 at 10:30 AM | Permalink


Governors exercising their pardon power is one gear in a machine to ultimately end mass incarceration. Persons convicted of non-violent felonies are generally pardoned over folks convicted of violent felonies. I hope that governors will grant this same mercy to those convicted of offenses like aggravated assault and robbery in the near future.

Posted by: anon | Nov 26, 2023 10:47:58 PM

Kudos to both governors. Obviously we can't see all that were pardoned, but it feels like they had the right approach.

Posted by: federalist | Nov 27, 2023 9:48:16 AM

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