Monday, May 25, 2015

California: A Great Pardon Story

The Orange County Register has a wonderful story on a recent pardon case in California. In 1994, Henry E. Irvin was looking at a ten year prison sentence for threatening a woman. He always disputed how far the incident went, but felt fortunate to be able to plead out a sentence of a mere six months. After a violation of parole, Irwin spend over two years in prison before being released in 1997.

But what really were his odds if making something out of himself? How long would it really be before he was right back in prison? Irvin was convicted of robbery at age 13 and spent a considerable amount of time in "juvenile hall." A former employer there said of him, "one of the worst kids we had in custody ... he had little respect for authority and got into fights all the time,”

A counselor with the California Youth Authority enrolled Irvin in Fullerton College. He then Kansas Wesleyan University where he graduated in 2003 with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. And then:
Irvin didn’t have money for a lawyer to help him submit the pardon application, so he spent weeks in the Orange County Public Law Library figuring the paperwork out on his own. He also constantly called the state legal affairs office, never letting the staff forget him. Over the years he also enlisted the help of those he met along the way including Blair, even Tom Beamish, the then-mayor of La Habra ... Irvin applied during Arnold Schwarzenegger’s governorship and sent him a letter a day for a year, spending $200 on stamps. He never received a reply. After Brown’s appointment in 2011, Irvin has become one of the hundreds of Californians to receive the coveted certificate in the mail. Despite his efforts, another eight years went by without his hearing a word from the state ... until that April 4 phone call. Although the pardon does not expunge his record, many of Irvin’s rights, including the right to own firearms and serve on a jury, have been restored. The most important to him might be that he can possibly realize his dream job of being hired by the state as a parole or probation officer. 
See full story here.

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