Huffpost Crime

Jerry Brown Pardoned 128 Convicted Criminals In 2012

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Gov. Jerry Brown was in a forgiving state of mind last year.

The Democratic governor pardoned 128 convicted criminals in 2012, six times the number of pardons he granted the previous year, according to a report Brown made to the Legislature on Friday.

Many of the convictions carried no prison sentences. Others resulted in sentences, but those pardoned had been discharged from prison or parole many years ago.

In 2011, Brown issued 21 pardons. Even that number was more than any governor had granted for years. Brown's predecessor, Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, commuted 10 sentences during his tenure and pardoned just 16 people.

Schwarzenegger's predecessor, Democrat Gray Davis, granted no pardons.

Most of the people Brown pardoned in 2012 were convicted of drug or property crimes, though he also pardoned people convicted of manslaughter, assault with a deadly weapon and statutory rape.

Most of the pardons -- 79 of them -- were announced on Christmas Eve.

Brown also granted one commutation, which was widely reported when it was announced in April. That month, Brown commuted the prison sentence of Shirley Ree Smith, who was convicted of shaking her baby grandson to death in Los Angeles County in 1997.

In his commutation, Brown cited an appeals court ruling that called Smith's second-degree murder conviction a likely miscarriage of justice.

A pardon is often symbolically significant to its recipient, and it can help in job applications. It also allows an ex-felon to be employed as a parole or probation officer and, in most cases, to own a gun.

Sean Robert Dawley, who was sentenced in 1991 in San Mateo County for the crime of possession and purchase for sale of a narcotic, cited his desire to hunt with his son in his application for a pardon.

Dawley, who served three years probation and now lives in Nevada, said in his application that he had a drug and alcohol problem but now owns his own business and enjoys spending time outdoors "living the clean life."

Dawley said on his application that he would like to "do with my son the things my grandfather did with me," including hunting.

Brown's office has said the governor believes people who make mistakes but work for years to improve their lives and those of others deserve recognition.

Call David Siders, Bee Capitol Bureau, (916) 321-1215. Follow him on Twitter @davidsiders. ___

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