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Wisconsin governor has no intention of pardoning convicted felons

When people in Wisconsin are convicted of crimes, they may face a variety of responses from the State. In many situations, individuals are sent to jail or prison. However, Wisconsin's governor has the authority to pardon individuals. In the past, Wisconsin's governors have collectively pardoned hundreds of individuals who were convicted of crimes ranging from welfare fraud to arson.

When an individual is pardoned, he or she may be able to run for office, possess firearms and hold licenses. Although pardoning has been a common practice, Wisconsin's current governor told people who are seeking clemency that they are "fully and unconditionally out of luck."

A spokesperson for Gov. Scott Walker said the governor is not planning on issuing any pardons at this time. He added that the governor "believes these decisions are best left up to the courts."

Aside from that statement, it is not entirely clear why there have not been any pardons. In 1980, Gov. Lee Sherman Dreyfus created the Pardon Advisory Board. The board is responsible for reviewing pardon applications, screening applicants and making recommendations to the governor.

Gov. Walker, however, has not appointed anyone to the board, and this is the first time since 1980 that the board has not been in operation. Moreover, his spokesperson said that Walker has no intention of appointing anyone to the board.

Although Walker has said several times that he does not have any intention of issuing pardons, his website still includes information about applying for pardons. In addition, although Walker is not using the Pardon Advisory Board, his legal team reviews the applications and looks for extenuating circumstances -- though they still have no intention of pardoning individuals.

Naturally, most constituents who have heard about Walker's lack of pardoning are unhappy. One professor described the action as "the neglect of a constitutional duty of governor." The governor went on to question what would happen if there was an individual who, by all reasonable measures, deserved a pardon. The professor concluded, "There's no one there do it."

To clarify, when we talk about neglecting his duty to pardon, it's important to understand that his decision impacts hundreds of lives. In 2010, for example, Gov. Doyle issued 177 pardons, and that figure is not exorbitant.

One criminal defense attorney said the pardons can address unintended consequences of convictions. As the laws change, penalties often become more severe. People who were convicted of minor drug crimes may now be prevented from receiving federal aid to attend school, thereby denying the individuals the chance to become more valuable members of society.

The lawyer stated, "The courts can't correct that. The court has no authority to vacate it or change it, but the governor does, and that's part of the constitutional arrangement we have; that's part of the checks and balances."

Source: Green Bay Press Gazette, "Wisconsin governor has granted no pardons; has no plans to do so," Ben Jones, Nov. 27, 2011

3 Comments

I think it's just plain wrong for the governor to not do his duty by granting pardons to individuals who truly deserve it. There are people out there who have been convicted of non violent crimes and have not gotten into anymore trouble for 20 years or better after making the one mistake, and these individuals are prevented from finding work or getting an education that will improve the quality of their lives thus preventing then from becoming re-offenders. It's the people who have learned from the mistakes they have made and have thus stayed out of trouble and who truly want to turn their lives around who should be granted pardons and when you have an elected official such as governor walker not doing his duty to at least take into consideration the applications of people looking for pardons the law makers and officials wonder why people go back to a life a crime. I mean come on what else are they supposed to do when they can't be granted a pardon that would allow them to work or become educated?

I agree 100% with Colleen. I have a young son, who would like to apply for a pardon for a fasle conviction back in 2005. He has had a rough time trying to find work in our small community and is not allowed to seek employment outside our city. He applied for a 3rd shift grocery stocker at a local grocery store about 4 weeks ago and still hasn't heard anything from them about the job. I was at the establishment about 2 days ago and the job was still posted on the window. What's wrong with this picture????? Here you have someone with 2 children to support besides himself and he cannot even get a job stocking shelves from midnight to 7am. He is willing to work but because of smalltown talk he hasn't a chance of gaining employment. I too can see why it makes it hard for people not to get discouraged with the system when no one is there to help you along the way to get back on track. I have been seeing on the news lately that many of Govenor Walker's former aids are being convicted of crimes against the system. Do they get special treatment? Bet they do. I hope someone takes it to heart that there are people here in the state of Wisconsin that need this pardon, but have no chance in hell of getting it. I am still praying that my son will be able to get a pardon and that he finds work soon.


my crime was not paying support money,i was charge abandoment of
wife and kids. after that i raise my family, payed my back support, that was
over 40 years ago. been waiting to go before the advisory board since
july 2010

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