U.S. News

California Gov. Jerry Brown pardons 143 people on Christmas Eve

By Ray Downs   |   Dec. 25, 2018 at 11:13 AM
California Governor Jerry Brown addresses speaks at the Democratic National Convention at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia on July 27, 2016. File Photo by Pat Benic/UPI

Dec. 25 (UPI) -- In one of his last acts before leaving office, California Gov. Jerry Brown issued 143 pardons and 131 commutations on Monday.

Brown, who has been governor for the past eight years, had already pardoned more people than any governor in California history before his Christmas Eve actions. But on Monday, he broke the record for most commutations, surpassing the combined totals of all previous governors, including himself when he served his first tenure as California governor between 1975 and 1983.

"The atmosphere, the gangs, the hopelessness, sentences that are so long ... the no-exit attitude has made it virtually impossible to have any strong rehabilitative atmosphere," Brown told the San Francisco Chronicle. "This has given me the interest, where I can, in instilling hope."

However, not all of Brown's commutations were approved by California's Supreme Court. In the past few weeks, the court rejected six of Brown's commutations. In each case, the subject was convicted of murder.

One of them is Borey Ai, a 37-year-old Cambodian immigrant who was convicted of murder at the age of 14, the Sacramento Bee reported. Ai was released from prison last year, but now faces deportation because of his murder conviction.

The vast majority of Brown's pardons and commutations were for nonviolent crimes and people who have already served their sentences. Many only served probation sentences.