Governor Northam issues 1200-plus pardons during term

Published: Jan. 14, 2022 at 3:02 PM EST
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RICHMOND, Va. (WDBJ) - Governor Ralph Northam has granted pardons to more than 1,200 Virginians over the past four years, including exonerating eight people he said served prison sentences after being wrongfully convicted for crimes they did not commit. He also has restored civil rights to more than 126,000 people who completed their sentences and fully paid their debts to society, according to a statement from the governor’s office the day before he is succeeded by Glenn Youngkin.

“Virginians are forgiving people, who believe in second chances,” Governor Northam said. “When people make mistakes, and pay their debts, they deserve the opportunity to return and be productive members of society. We can all be proud that Virginia has been able to provide thousands of deserving people the opportunity for a fresh start.”

The Constitution of Virginia grants the Governor the authority to grant reprieves and pardons after conviction and restore the civil rights to people convicted of felonies. Northam said he has used his executive authority to provide second chances to Virginians who have “demonstrated a commitment to rehabilitation.”

The governor’s statement reads, “A pardon provides unique relief to individuals with exceptional circumstances who have demonstrated rehabilitation. The governor can grant three types of pardons: simple, conditional, or absolute. A pardon does not remove the crime from an individual’s record. Pardon petitions go through a thorough and extensive review process, meaning most petitions do not receive a decision for several years.”

Governor Northam reports he has acted on nearly 4,000 pardon petitions, saying that’s more than his predecessors, because he dedicated additional staff and resources to “ensure those seeking clemency receive thorough consideration.”

“It has been an honor to work with a Governor who is so committed to second chances,” said Secretary of the Commonwealth Kelly Thomasson. “His actions will leave lasting impacts on countless Virginians who have moved forward from the mistakes of their past and deserve to be treated as full citizens and community members. It is my hope that future administrations continue this important work.”

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