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Evers Pardons 71, Makes Changes to Wisconsin Process

September 7, 2021 by Dan McCue
Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers at the National Governors Association Winter Meeting in Washington. (Photo by Dan McCue)

MADISON, Wis. — Gov. Tony Evers granted 71 pardons Tuesday, putting him on pace to pardon more people in his first term than any governor in contemporary history.

In all, Evers has pardoned 263 former inmates, since his pardon advisory board was announced in 2019. 

The board heard from applicants virtually between May and August, and the names of those being recommended for pardon were forwarded to Evers for final consideration. 

“Hearing from any one of our pardon recipients you’ll hear stories of redemption, service to others, and hope for the future,” said Evers in a written statement.

“As I said when I reinstated the pardon board, I believe in forgiveness and the power of redemption, and I believe the people of Wisconsin do, too.”

In addition to granting the 71 pardons announced Wednesday, Evers also signed Executive Order 130, making changes to the pardon process itself. 

The order creates a new, expedited process for applications that meet stricter criteria. 

Under the new process, the chair of the pardon advisory board may send an application directly to the governor without a board hearing if the applicant committed only a non-violent offense and sufficient time has passed since the conviction. 

Additionally, a new application is being issued which expands pardon eligibility to ensure individuals who have completed all their sentences after five years have passed. Previously, individuals could only be pardoned for their most recent felony. 

“After nine years of the board sitting dormant, there are a lot of people out there looking and hoping for their second chance,” Evers said. 

“Throughout the two years of the board, we have learned about some areas where we can improve the process to streamline it and help ensure we can get pardons to those who are deserving, including allowing those with low-level, nonviolent offenses to be sent directly to my desk for consideration, as well as making a correction that was preventing folks from receiving pardons not because their crimes were more serious or because they posed a greater risk to the community, but due to the timing of their convictions and sentencing.”

The Wisconsin Constitution grants the governor the power to pardon individuals convicted of a crime. A pardon is an official act of forgiveness that restores some of the rights that are lost when someone is convicted of a felony, including the right to serve on a jury, hold public office, and hold certain professional licenses. A pardon does not result in an expungement.

Under Executive Orders 30 and 130, individuals convicted of a Wisconsin felony may apply for a pardon if they completed their sentence at least five years ago and have no pending criminal charges or cases. Individuals currently required to register on the sex offender registry are ineligible for a pardon.

The next meeting of the pardon advisory board, which is being held virtually, will be on Friday, Sept. 10, 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. It will be livestreamed here.

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