Gov. Jerry Brown (Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images)
Gov. Jerry Brown (Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images)

Gov. Jerry Brown is handing out 127 Christmas Eve pardons.

The announcement continues a major departure from other recent California governors. Brown has now granted 341 pardons. That’s the most since – actually, since Brown’s first stint as governor, when he handed out more than 400. Combined, California’s last three governors granted less than 30 pardons total.

As has been the case in previous years, the vast majority of the people Brown pardoned Tuesday had been convicted of nonviolent, drug-related crimes.

The California Report recently took a look at Brown’s liberal use of pardon power:

Pardons are mostly symbolic and don’t expunge a record, though they do restore some rights that felons had lost, including the right to own a firearm. Still, recent governors have avoided pardons. Schwarzenegger only handed out 16. Republican Pete Wilson granted 13. And Democrat Gray Davis didn’t grant a single pardon.

That makes Brown look like a very aggressive pardoner. But Brown’s spokesman [Evan] Westrup argued it was the other governors who were out of step with the typical pardon rate.  “Now the Wilson, Schwarzenegger and Davis administration certainly veered away from that history,” he said. “But if you look back at Ronald Reagan, of all people — Gov. Reagan pardoned nearly 600 people. Deukmejian, over 300.”

  • Pardon me, I am not impressed. All of these people have completed their sentences? Out of hundreds of thousands destroyed lives all he could come up with 127 pardons? Disgusting. Are the people who were completely innocent in the first place included on this list or is this an actual act of mercy? How about showing some remorse for the 350 to 450 inmates who die every year due to prison overcrowding and mismanagement from the stupid sentencing laws Brown imposed when he was Governor before? It’s a piffling gesture compared to the enormity of the problem. The “offender” who killed the most people is Jerry Brown.

  • waltinseattle

    already paroled a decade and still checking in with parole . no crimes since release. gee jerry, that was a courageous move. you really took a chance there. what if youd done a few pardons for other nonviolent folk, ones who are still keeping the prisons packed? done like a true grinch. and shsmefully good publicity too. im not impressed. i am disgusted. merry christmas all, wherever your “bars”.


      Thank you Walt, what a nice forgiving parole system we have here, After you behave yourself for 15 years you finally get a parole officer off your back…..and that’s only if your lucky enough to get a pardon from the Governor, what a joke!

  • Megan

    Glad he’s not my Governor and my state Gov. looks nothing like CA.


    No one was released, even though there are TWELVE innocent people sitting on death row costing us taxpayers millions of dollars a year……Even though the prisons are severely overcrowded and costing taxpayers money to house non-violent offenders who should be out and monitored via GPS ankle bracelet monitoring, NO ONE was released! Im not giving Gov. Brown any credit for being compassionate, he continues to defy a court order to relieve overcrowding, he gets a chance to redeem himself and throws it in the trash! These pardons were given to parolees who have been out of prison for many years and yes they deserved the parsons but, why is the Governor getting all this credit when he is letting innocent people rot in prison? Is the media educated on the harsh conditions in the California prisons? If I had wrote this article I would have included facts about the people that should have been released from prison, isn’t if fair reporting to report both sides?

  • Nina Courtney

    Good start Governor but don’t stop there. Keep going and restore to released inmates all their rights so that they can have a fair chance to become productive member of society. We are creating a class of semi citizens and that’s not good for society. Why not work at eliminating the conveyor belt to prison by eliminating mandatory minimums, sentence enhancements, stacking of charges, indeterminate sentencing. Why not feed, educate and house the homeless and poor, why not treat the mentally ill and addicted?

  • Moe Ramsey

    Pardoning some prisoners under some circumstances is good and all. But unless real reform is enacted, none of this matters much in the long run.

  • Lucy Cartagena

    Bull Sh*T!!! ~ I hope California s read into his publicity stunt!! I almost believed it too!! 🙁 Sad his desperate attempt for re-election!!!…Thank God I really looked into it because we lax as voting, tax-payers and are sometimes influenced by the media and its powerful allies made for profit and greed!!! ~ Eyes Wide Open Now!!!

  • Gina

    Jerry Brown is known not to have any compassion or will to let anyone out of prison changed or not. His regime as well like Pete Wilson are the foundation of the Prison Industrial Complex. All the hype about pardons are ploys to win your votes ~ just another one of his cons

  • wearealldoingtime

    Deceptive Fluff 4 Votes>>These pardons should have taken place much sooner, 15 years on parole? Ridiculous & Wasteful ! Only 127 handpicked are pardoned ? Looks like job security for probation officers by design **Prison profiteering, is responsible for excessive sentencing, wrongful convictions, and mass incarceration in America. This is why the court system is broken deliberately 4 profits,on many fronts !! Everyone profits except the prisoners & their families,who suffer tremendously, especially their children.CPS also profits in the same manner, many children in Foster Care are children whose parents R in prison. This corrupt system has many tentacles, feeding off the unsuspecting public,the sacrificial lambs,of this mass incarceration corruption. Arrest to parole, in the name of profits on our dime.


Scott Detrow

Sacramento bureau chief Scott Detrow covers state government, politics and policy for KQED News and its statewide news program, The California Report.

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