Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers on Friday announced dozens of new pardons, including nine for individuals previously convicted for cannabis-related offenses.
“There is power in redemption and forgiveness, especially for folks who’ve been working to move beyond their past mistakes to be productive, positive members of their communities,” Evers said in a statement. “I’m grateful for being able to give a second chance to these individuals who’ve worked hard to do just that.”
Evers, the first-term Democrat, has now “granted more pardons during his first three years in office than any other governor in contemporary history,” according to a release from his office, which said that he has granted a total of 498 pardons since taking office in 2019.
The nine individuals previously busted for pot-related offenses who received a pardon on Friday include Danielle Arrigo, who “was 22 when she twice sold marijuana to a confidential informant,” and “now resides in Burlington with her daughter and has earned her associate degree.”
There was also Jeremy Busch, who “was pulled over for suspected drunk driving” 22 years ago when “police discovered he had been drinking and smoking marijuana.” Busch was 18 at that time.
“Now 22 years later, he resides in Genoa City and has obtained an associate and bachelor’s degree in the fields of civil engineering and architecture, graduating magna cum laude,” according to the governor’s office.
Per the Friday announcement from Evers’s office, the following individuals with marijuana-related convictions were also pardoned: “Christina Darby was 22 when officers found marijuana in her home. She has since moved to California with her children, earned an associate degree, and works as a property manager.”; “Gary Davis, Jr. was around 20 years old when he was found in possession of marijuana and other controlled substances. Three decades later, he now resides in Madison and has worked as a youth/juvenile counselor with local social services organizations.”; “Henry Hong was 20 when he sold a controlled substance and was also found in possession of marijuana and a stolen pistol. He now resides in Raeford, North Carolina, where he owns a restaurant and has earned a master’s degree.”; “John Jezuit was a teenager when he punched someone while on probation for selling marijuana. Nearly two decades later, he now resides in Madison and has earned his bachelor’s degree in social welfare.”; “Travis Nelson was 18 when he sold marijuana to a confidential informant. He now resides in Denmark with his family and founded his own trucking business over 13 years ago.”; “Lawrence Riche was 20 when officers found marijuana in his residence, and several years later, he was again found with marijuana, controlled substances, and firearms. Now 40 years later, he resides in Menomonee Falls, has remained sober, and has maintained long-term employment as a steamfitter.”
As the governor’s announcement on Friday explained, a pardon “does not expunge court records,” but it is “an official act of forgiveness that restores rights lost when someone is convicted of a felony, including the right to serve on a jury, hold public office, and hold certain professional licenses.”
For Evers, who is up for re-election this year, the pardons are consistent with repeated calls for cannabis reform in the Badger State. Last year, Evers’ budget proposal included a plan to legalize medical and recreational cannabis use, both of which are against the law in Wisconsin.
In February, Evers vetoed a Republican-backed measure that would have instituted new penalties in Wisconsin for manufacturing and distributing cannabis or resin by butane extraction.
“It is widely accepted, and, indeed, research over the course of the last decade confirms, that marijuana criminalization has had a disproportionate impact on communities of color, especially in Wisconsin where have long-standing racial disparities in incarceration rates,” Evers said in his veto statement at the time.
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