In his first six years as governor, he granted just one commutation, reducing a convicted murderer's death sentence to life without parole. But in late December 2014, [he] started with nine pardons. He's since granted 52 more. On Friday, Nixon's office announced that he'd granted the largest single block pardons in his governorship, wiping away the criminal convictions of fourteen people. All had completed their sentences, rejoined society and stayed out of trouble. Only two had ever served prison terms. [Friday's] pardons follow the pattern established in Nixon's previous edicts: The cases involve relatively minor crimes such as theft and drug possession. None of the people affected are currently incarcerated. Some of the crimes date back a half-century or more.But Wicentowski says "there's no shortage of worthwhile cases." The state legislature passed a repeal of the three-strike drug law that has put some away "for life," but the reform is not retroactive. Wicentowski says "more than 140 people are serving no-parole sentences under a law that Missouri's own lawmakers recognized as unjust."
It is possible that Nixon "is acting out of political cynicism" Pardoning only "safe" cases now will "protect Nixon in future campaigns and preserve his law-and-order bonafides." But Wicentowski suggests that is to "choose cowardice over courage." See story here.