Governors don’t necessarily have a long track record of granting clemency for crimes that have occurred long before they were in office. It’s not exactly a requirement for the position, but it certainly does gain attention when there is a governor that’s willing to step forward and grant pardons for past crimes. Some might say that this shows a bit of humanity when someone of such power is willing to review the records of those that don’t personally affect his or her life, then take actions toward improving the criminal records of those that initially were forced to face their punishment.
California’s governors are among the many that don’t have a long history of pardoning those that have previously been punished. Going back through the past fourteen or so years, clemency hasn’t exactly been on the platform of those in office. Governor Gray Davis, who was in office for five years before being recalled and replaced by Arnold Schwarzenegger, did not pardon a single person during his entire tenure in office. Schwarzenegger, in office for seven years, only pardoned sixteen people throughout that entire time period. Now, a decade after Californians put up a fight for political mutiny, the winds of change are in the air in this west coast state.
This Christmas Eve, current California Governor Jerry Brown pardoned 127 people. This year’s Christmas clemency gifts exceed his 2012 pardons, which totaled 79 last Christmas Eve. Of the people that received official pardons this year, the overwhelming majority, 93 to be exact, had received convictions related to marijuana or other controlled substances. These convictions ranged from possession to transporting the products. Some had charges of selling or cultivating. While the symbolism of the pardon is largely just that – a noble gesture that doesn’t necessarily have a large impact on those receiving clemency since they’ve completed their sentences and other required necessities handed down by the courts many years ago – the fact remains that pardons for pot-related punishments do show that the ways of the world are changing.