Gov. John Hickenlooper yesterday afternoon announced he granted clemency for 22 individuals who he said “have served their time and are currently contributing members of their communities.”
The 22 offenders had all served their sentences, and according to a statement to the governor, many of their criminal sentences involved drug addiction or crimes committed as juveniles.
“Too often, though, they struggle to find meaningful work and fully untangle themselves from their criminal histories,” Hickenlooper said in a press release. “This decision gives them that chance. Hopefully, it will be a little easier for them to rent an apartment and put food on the table; walk into a job interview knowing they will get a fair shot; volunteer in their children’s schools; and live out their final years with peace of mind.
The clemency process involves extensive review of their requests and input from victims, judges, prosecutors and others. Some have already proven themselves in finding jobs and rejoining the community, and others have faced major impediments to restarting their lives because of the crimes they committed when they were young.
The crimes themselves range from theft of a video game to sale or possession of controlled substances. Several of the sentences were for possession or sale of marijuana.
Among the 22 was Wayne Thomas, who was charged and convicted as an adult when he was 17 for aggravated robbery and use of a deadly weapon. Since his release, Thomas has earned a Ph.D.
“Mr. Thomas has gone from an Aurora teenage convicted felon, incarcerated for his crimes, to an upstanding member of our community,” 18th Judicial District Attorney George Brauchler said in a press release. “The pardon power does not exist to merely wipe away the past convictions of a person who has met the bare minimum of living a crime-free life. It exists to acknowledge those who have exceeded expectations and demonstrated — not only full rehabilitation — but a commitment to the community. Wayne Thomas is the reason why there is a pardon power in our constitution.”
Hickenlooper echoed that sentiment by saying that those pardoned have demonstrated their contribution to society.
“The 22 people I am pardoning today serve as an example that redemption is possible. I believe they will use this opportunity to continue improving their lives, raising families, and being productive members of their communities,” he said. “They have earned the opportunity for a second chance.”