Governor’s predecessor issued none during eight years in office.
Gov. Tony Evers on Thursday announced he has issued pardons to 18 Wisconsinites formerly convicted of felonies.
The announcement came five months after he pardoned 17 others. The latest round brings Evers’ total number of pardons to 47 since taking office in 2019.
“A pardon won’t fix the challenges facing our criminal justice system, but it can have a tremendous impact on a person’s life,” Evers said in a statement. “Each of these people earned a pardon by serving their sentence and making positive contributions to society.”
Wisconsin governors are able to pardon individuals convicted of crimes, restoring rights revoked via felony convictions such as being able to serve on a jury, hold public office, and hold certain professional licenses.
Ex-convicts are eligible to apply for a pardon after they have been out of extended supervision or probation for five years. They are not eligible if they have been convicted of another crime since completing their initial sentence.
Republican Gov. Scott Walker broke with longstanding precedent and did not issue a single pardon during his eight years in office. Walker argued pardons “undermine” the criminal justice system, according to the New York Times. A pardon does not equate to crimes being expunged from a person’s record.
Walker’s five gubernatorial predecessors issued multiple pardons in each of their terms, according to the New York Times. Evers’ first pardons, issued last October, were the first in Wisconsin since 2010.
Among those Evers pardoned this week are 49-year-old Yusef Moore, 58-year-old Steven Johnson, and 65-year-old Terry Howell-Dixon.
Johnson, of Marshfield, was 23 when his best friend died in a car crash that Johnson caused, according to Evers’ office. His friend’s mother has forgiven him and supports the pardon. Johnson has a terminal brain tumor and wanted to be pardoned before he dies, according to Evers’ office.
Howell-Dixon, of Milwaukee, committed public-assistance fraud “nearly 30 years ago” by failing to report an increase in income, according to Evers’ office. She has since become a great-grandmother, remained employed, and become involved in her faith community.
Moore, of Greenfield, was incarcerated on multiple drug offenses in his 30s after suffering with addiction. He is now a substance abuse counselor, works with homeless people, and obtained a master’s degree from Loyola University in Chicago, according to Evers’ office.
Sean Wilson, Smart Justice director for the Wisconsin chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, told UpNorthNews in February that he is happy to see Evers issuing pardons, but said the pardon system should be expanded to those still on probation or parole. More than 66,000 Wisconsinites were on probation or parole as of June 30, 2019, according to the Department of Corrections.