Wisconsin Public Radio

Evers Issues 18 Pardons

The governor revived the pardoning process last year, after former Gov. Walker ignored it for nearly a decade.

By , Wisconsin Public Radio - Jul 16th, 2020 03:22 pm
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Gov. Tony Evers. File photo by Emily Hamer/Wisconsin Watch.

Gov. Tony Evers. File photo by Emily Hamer/Wisconsin Watch.

Gov. Tony Evers has granted pardons to 18 more people in Wisconsin, continuing a process that was dormant for nearly a decade under former Republican Gov. Scott Walker.

Evers, a Democrat, has now granted pardons to nearly 50 people since he revived the state’s pardon board last year. He issued his first pardons in October. Most of the pardoned people committed lower-level drug and theft offenses.

A pardon doesn’t expunge someone’s criminal record, but restores some rights lost after a felony conviction, including the right to run for office and the right to hold certain professional licenses.

Evers said the pardons were earned by people who have served their sentence and made “positive contributions to society.”

“A pardon won’t fix the challenges facing our criminal justice system, but it can have a tremendous impact on a person’s life,” the governor said in a press release on Thursday.

Evers has been criticized by some for not doing more to reduce the state’s prison population, something he promised to do during his campaign. People are only eligible for pardons five years after completing their sentence.

Those pardoned are:

  • James Hernon, 59, who burglarized a home 20 years ago. He now works with the Milwaukee Rescue Mission.
  • Steven Johnson, 58, who was 23 when he caused a fatal car accident. His best friend died in the crash. Johnson has been diagnosed with a terminal brain tumor.
  • Taranda Westmoreland, 45, who made unauthorized charges on a credit card when she was 26. She has since obtained a master’s degree and works in social services.
  • Barry Plotnick, 65, who was 21 when he broke into a drug store and stole several bottles of Valium. After completing his sentence, he became a successful small business owner.
  • Loretta Childs, who was 22 years old when she knowingly wrote bad checks.
  • Matthew Raasch, 41, who cashed fraudulent checks. He now volunteers and works with Waukesha County inmates and drug and alcohol treatment courts.
  • Elandis Peete, who was 18 when he sold cocaine to an undercover police officer. He has since opened his own trucking business, where he mentors and hires formerly incarcerated people.
  • Shelesia Parham, 51, who was 23 when she forged her mother’s name on multiple withdrawal slips for her mother’s account. She is now an owner of multiple newspapers in Racine.
  • Kerry Brunner, 59, who was in his early twenties when he was convicted of delivery of cocaine and cashing a stolen check. He has been a small business owner and is currently working in his local school district as a custodian.
  • Keith Butler, 40, who was 23 when he was charged with selling drugs to undercover police officers. He is now a community volunteer and has worked an assistant coach with the Green Bay Packer Pee Wee League.
  • Markeese Walker, 40, who was 22 when he was convicted of fleeing an officer. He has since become an “active community member,” according to the press release, and a volunteer.
  • Andrew Ophoven, who was arrested for selling marijuana. He has since gone to school for culinary arts and hospitality management.
  • Michael Andersen, 40, who sold marijuana and shoplifted 20 years ago. He now has obtained associate’s degrees in marketing and business.
  • Yusef Moore, 49, who was convicted of several drug-related offenses in his early 30s. He is now working as a substance abuse residential counselor.
  • Terry Howell-Dixon, 65, who didn’t report an increase in income which resulted in an over-grant of public assistance and food stamps. She has since maintained steady employment and is very involved with her local faith community.
  • LaFondra Thomas, who was 19 when she committed a series of check forgeries. She since obtained her HSED and has worked for the same company for 21 years.
  • Sonny Valeriano, 34, who was 20 years old when he was charged with selling marijuana. He is now working as a massage therapist.
  • Richard Baker, 39, who was charged with bail jumping, obstructing an officer, and escape. He now works as a hunting and fishing guide in Minnesota.

Individuals are ineligible for pardons if they are required to register on the sex offender registry.

The Governor’s nine-member Pardon Advisory Board meets monthly and makes pardon recommendations to the governor.

Former Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle issued 300 pardons during his tenure and Republican Govs. Scott McCallum and Tommy Thompson issued a combined 262 pardons.

Listen to the WPR report here.

Gov. Tony Evers Issues 18 More Pardons was originally published by Wisconsin Public Radio.

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