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California Gov. Jerry Brown Sets Record of 1,018 Pardons in 8 Years

Oakland mayor Jerry Brown (Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press)
Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press
Newport Beach, CA

California Gov. Jerry Brown used his executive powers to issue 36 gubernatorial pardons on Friday, to hit a record of 1,018 pardons in eight years in office.

Although 22 of those were for murder and 13 for attempted murder or manslaughter, Brown said each of the pardons he provided went to individuals that had had “demonstrated exemplary behavior” and lived “productive and law-abiding lives” following their convictions and time served in prison, according to the Fresno Bee.

Calmatters reported that by Brown’s sixth year as governor in 2016, he had already forgiven 850 felons, more than California governors combined in the prior three decades. Combined with the 132 in 2017 and 36 so far this year, Brown has already issued 1,018 pardons. The governor is also expected to add to the total before leaving office, with his tradition of granting executive clemencies on Christmas Eve.

At least there of the governor’s August pardons were for legal Cambodian refugees facing deportation for committing violent felonies. The Democrat governor moved in December to grant pardons to two other Cambodian men picked up in October immigration sweeps in Modesto and Davis, according to the Sacramento Bee.

The pardons have been described as acts of mercy to frustrate the Trump administration’s efforts to detain and deport immigrants with felony convictions that by law can result in the loss of legal residency status.

One of Friday’s pardons went to Vanna In, 43, who entered the United States legally at the age of 3 as a refugee of the Cambodian Khmer Rouge. Mr. In was sentenced on October 24, 1994 at the age of 17 for murdering a rival gang member in Fresno.  He served six years in the California Youth Authority and was released in 2001, but lost his legal residency and was about to be deported for committing a violent offence, according to the Fresno Bee.

Gov. Brown supposedly learned of Mr. In through a change.org petition drive. After being released from the Youth Authority 17 years ago, Vanna In earned a master’s degree from Fresno’s Pacific Biblical Seminary and has worked as an ordained minister in vocational placement counseling with a local chapter of Hope Now For Youth.

Brown praised Vanna for living “[a]n honest and upright life.” The pardon does not guarantee that Rev. In will recover his legal residency and avoid deportation, but the Bee reported it may help get an immigration judge overturn the order.

Brown also issued 31 commutations of sentence on Friday that will result in early releases from California prisons.

Photo: file

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