Monday, June 23, 2014

California: The Pardon Guy

The L.A. Times has an interesting piece on one 77 year old John Garbin, a.k.a. "the pardon guy" (or the "certificate of rehabilitation guy." Garbin says, "We do not live in a forgiving society." The Times says Garbin, a senior paralegal in the public defender's office, has spent "the last two decades answering about 1,000 calls a year from felons, most of them drug offenders."
He digs into each one's history to confirm they have gone straight for at least seven years (about 5% to 10% fall short). Then he works to persuade a judge to grant them a wider path back into society. His success rate is an astounding 95%. Such a certificate doesn't erase the past, but it does restore some of the civil rights lost upon conviction. It also serves as an automatic application for a governor's pardon, the ultimate badge of rehabilitation. With Gov. Jerry Brown granting clemency more often than his recent predecessors, more people are flocking to Garbin for a shot at their governor's pardon. For them, Garbin often seems their only hope. 
The piece also reports that over the 20 years Schwarzenegger, Gray Davis and Pete Wilson served "only 29 pardons had been granted." Jerry Brown has granted 375 since taking office in 2011. Garbin takes credit for 41 of them. See story here.

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