State Governors Grant Over 500 Pardons, Commutations
Date:  12-20-2017

Governors of California, Indiana, Kentucky, New York, Arkansas and Vermont exceed President’s one pardon for disgraced sheriff
From Prison Legal News:

In what is typically a politically risky move, six state governors recently granted pardons and commutations to hundreds of current and former prisoners. In California, Indiana, Kentucky, New York, Arkansas and Vermont, more than 500 pardons were granted along with another 20 commutations or grants of clemency.

In January 2017, outgoing Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin pardoned 192 people convicted of non-violent marijuana offenses. The state decriminalized marijuana in 2013 but has yet to legalize it. According to Shumlin, the collateral consequences of a minor drug conviction are severe and in some cases unwarranted.

“When you look at the Vermonters who are sitting out there with criminal records because they have had an ounce or less of marijuana – could have happened in the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s – there’s thousands of them,” Shumlin stated.

Pardoning any criminal, even low-level drug offenders, is always politically dangerous. But experts believe that shifts in public opinion have rendered such actions more acceptable for lawmakers.

“What he’s doing is, it’s almost unimaginably safe [from criticism] if you think in terms of 40 years ago,” P.S. Ruckman, Jr., a professor of political science at Rock Valley College in Illinois, told the Christian Science Monitor. “It’s highly significant. I think it’s likely we’ll see more of it.” Continue reading