Gov. Jerry Brown granted Christmas Eve pardons to 79 ex-cons Monday, including a three-time convicted felon who might have been a three-striker had the crimes been committed today.
Although some media sources are characterizing the majority of the pardoned crimes as simple drug possession, the truth is that they range from dealing cocaine and LSD to cultivating marijuana for sale, armed robbery, drunk-driving causing great bodily injury, and manslaughter.
All 79 convicts completed their sentences, generally about 20 years ago, and “have demonstrated exemplary behavior following their conviction,” according to a statement from the governor’s office.
“A pardon will not be granted unless it has been earned,” the statement said. “Obtaining a pardon is a distinct achievement based upon proof of a productive and law-abiding life following conviction.”
Brown’s policy is not to consider an application for pardon until 10 years after the completion of probation or parole.
One person pardoned Monday was 61-year-old Thomas George Pfleger of Newport Beach. Pfleger was convicted of a drug-dealing charge in 1970. He got out of prison in 1975 only to commit second-degree robbery in 1976. Released again in 1981, he went back to prison a third time in 1983 for drug possession.
Today Pfleger runs the George T. Pfleger Foundation, a nonprofit corporation with listed assets of $16 million. He was recommended for a pardon in 2004 by the Orange County Superior Court, then by his parole board and finally in November 2012 by a majority of the California Supreme Court justices.
“For many years now, Mr. Pfleger has been a generous and active supporter of numerous charitable philanthropic causes, including in the areas of child welfare, substance abuse recovery, wildlife preservation and medical research,” Brown wrote in Pfleger’s pardoning document.
Just one crime was listed for most pardoned criminals, who didn’t need the state Supreme Court to vouch for their character. The oldest on the books was that of a San Diego man who served five years in prison for a robbery committed in 1954. Today he helps Alzheimer’s patients in Ventura County.
Another was convicted in 1969 of first-degree robbery with drug priors in Alameda County. Now 79, he’s the chaplain at an Arkansas state prison.
There do not appear to be any sex offenders among the criminals Brown pardoned Monday.
A pardon doesn’t seal or erase a record of conviction, and a pardoned offense can be considered as a prior conviction if the person re-offends.
But a pardon does make a person eligible for jury service, and it allows a person to possess a firearm unless a gun was used in the commission of the crime.
See all of the pardoning orders [here].