California Gov. Jerry Brown Grants Dozens Of Drug Pardons

By McCarton Ackerman 04/22/14

The Golden State's governor celebrated the Easter holiday by granting 63 pardons, many of which were for previous possessions or sales convictions.

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California Gov. Jerry Brown granted 63 drug pardons over the weekend, many of which were to individuals convicted of minor possession offenses.

Brown made the pardon official in a statement released last Friday, confirming that “the individuals granted pardons all completed their sentences and have been released from custody for more than a decade without further criminal activity.” Although this does not remove the conviction from their record, it does allow certain rights to be restored like sitting on a jury. Brown has typically timed pardons around the holidays and granted 127 of them last Christmas, including 93 for drug-related offenses.

Roughly two-thirds of those pardoned had been convicted on charges of possessing, selling or manufacturing controlled substances like marijuana. Several of them now work as drug counselors or are active in public service by supporting non-profits.

“I’ve been waiting 14 years for this call…this just blows me away,” said Clark William Guest, who served 60 days in jail and five years of probation after stealing from his landlord to support his meth addiction. “Good people make mistakes and we’re allowed to make U-turns.” Guest now works as the coordinator of the drug rehab program he participated in following his conviction.

While Brown has been fairly liberal with pardons during his time in office, having granted hundreds since 2011, previous California governors were far less generous. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Gov. Gray Davis granted 29 pardons combined over a 20-year period.

Meanwhile, a senior White House official told reporters last weekend that President Barack Obama is planning clemency for “hundreds, perhaps thousands” of drug offenders currently serving long sentences for non-violent drug crimes.

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.