Prisons

Gov. Jerry Brown Pardons Some Drug War Convictions – Anger Follows

65 selected for Easter clemency have been out of prison and living clean for years

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… And stay out!
Credit: Danee79, Dreamstime.com

Calif. Gov. Jerry Brown celebrated Easter by pardoning 65 people, most of whom had been convicted of drug-related crimes. As is common for pardons, none of those selected are currently incarcerated and hadn't been for years. Some of them were never actually incarcerated at all. The governor's clemency, though, restores their rights to serve on juries, work jobs that are typically closed off to those with felony records, and even own guns again (if their crimes did not involve weapons).

The number of pardons is a pittance compared to the number of people who have been caught up in California's prison system. Gov. Brown's record, though, is still better than the past two governors. Brown has granted 200 pardons while in office so far. Arnold Schwarzenegger granted only 16 during his two terms in office and Gov. Gray Davis never granted any.

The fact that none of the pardons went to people who were actually incarcerated right now and had been living free and clean for years didn't stop KCRA in Sacramento from doing their best to put a scary spin on it. One of the 65 people had been convicted of murder (but completed his sentence like the others), and so the whole list is tainted now:

"Now we're pardoning murderers," said Lynne Brown.

Brown is the founder of Advocates for Public Safety. She told KCRA 3, "When does it stop, and when does justice for the victims take priority?"

The pardons are also troubling for Sandy Friend, whose 8-year-old son Michael Lyons was kidnapped and killed by a twice convicted sex offender in 1996 near Yuba City.

"This is a lifetime sentence for us. And I don't feel that they deserve a second chance," Friend said.

What does the horrible case of Michael Lyons have to do with these pardons? Some drug dealers or users don't deserve a second chance because Sandy Friend's son was killed by a sex offender? That's some pretty lazy (but not surprising) journalism.