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Gov. Pence hasn't issued single pardon in 2 years

December 22, 2014

Gov. Mike Pence, who has said he wants Indiana to be a leader in giving criminals who've served their time a second chance, hasn't granted a single pardon during his first two years in office.

"I have a heavy bias for respect for due process of law. It's a high hurdle for me," the conservative Republican told The Journal Gazette as to why he hasn't pardoned anyone since taking office in January 2013.

A pardon is executive forgiveness for a crime that removes penalties, such as preventing felons from being able to get a gun license, while also restoring civil rights. A pardon can essentially make a person a new man or woman, but pardons aren't the same as commuting a sentence or clemency.

Pence said in October that he wants Indiana "to be the worst place in America to commit a serious crime" but also the "best place in America once you've done your time to get a second chance."

Since taking office, Pence has received 34 recommendations from the Indiana Parole Board regarding pardon petitions.

Pence said his public safety team did not bring him any cases in 2013 that rose to the level he sought, but that he's taking a fresh look and expects to make decisions before the end of the year. He faces no statutory deadline to act.

Pence's predecessor, former Gov. Mitch Daniels, gave pardons in most but not all of his two terms. He gave a total of 62 pardons during those eight years — far fewer than recommended by the board.

As Pence considers whether to issue his first pardon, many requests are stuck in limbo awaiting action.

Adam L. Jackson was sentenced to three years for robbery in Allen County in 1999. He said in his petition that two of his friends planned the robbery of a man outside a restaurant, and he had no knowledge of that plan until it occurred.

"I have done everything I can to right my wrong doing and only ask for a second chance," he said in his petition.

And Paul G. Napier, who was sentenced to four years for possession of a pipe bomb in 1993 in Kosciusko County, said in his petition that he was pulled over in the middle of the night with a homemade bomb he intended to set off in an open field "to see if it worked."

Napier said in his petition that he knows there's nothing he can do to make up for his "poor decisions in the past" but that he's trying to be "the best husband, citizen and soldier I can be."

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