Following his yearly routine, Gov. Rick Perry granted pardons to 14 people on Friday, bringing his career total to roughly 200. Each of the cases was recommended to him, as the law requires, by the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles.
While the pardons are certainly welcome news for the recipients, others have criticized the tradition of holiday clemency announcements, arguing that it trivializes an important executive responsibility.
"It makes the clemency function of the executive seem like a once-a-year event, while really it should be an ongoing function," said Scott Henson of the popular criminal justice blog Grits for Breakfast. Henson has written that presidents and governors tend to pick "trivial, long-ago cases chosen more for their lack of political risk than the particular merits of the petitioners." Perry has never granted a pardon in a death penalty case.
But, Henson noted, Perry has pardoned far more people than President Obama, who in four years has only granted clemency to 22 people.
Perry’s pardon record has varied from year to year.
In 2003, Perry granted clemency to 35 defendants in the famed Tulia case, in which dozens of black defendants were wrongly convicted based on false testimony by a white police officer.
Last year, he granted eight pardons.
Patricia Willingham Cox is the cousin of Cameron Todd Willingham, who was executed in 2004 and whose family submitted an application for a posthumous pardon in October. Responding to today's pardons, she reiterated her hope that Willingham will be on Perry's list in the future. "I think that the list certainly is not complete," she said. "My heart goes out to those fourteen people who have been pardoned, because of their families. I know exactly what they're going through. I still have confidence that we will prevail and that Todd will get justice as these fourteen have gotten justice."
Here's the full list of pardons this year from Perry's office:
- Kyndel Wayne Bennett, 41, of Austin, was convicted of public intoxication in 1988 at the age of 17. He was sentenced to pay a $215 fine.
- Mary Lee Cloud, 50, of Houston, was convicted of carrying a weapon in 1989 at the age of 27. She was sentenced to four days in jail, and paid a $100 fine.
- Earl Andrew Cooksey, 59, of Kansas City, Kansas, was convicted of possession of marijuana in 1972 at the age of 18. He was sentenced to three years probation. In addition to a full pardon, he was granted restoration of his firearm rights.
- Joe Neil Fife, 56, of McKinney, was convicted of fleeing from the police in 1974 at the age of 17. He was sentenced to five days in jail.
- Ester M. Hewitt, 37, of Houston, was convicted of hindering apprehension in 1997 at the age of 22. She was sentenced to nine days in jail.
- James L. Jones Jr., 35, of El Paso, was convicted of unlawfully carrying a weapon in 2000 at the age of 23. He was sentenced to pay a $250 fine.
- Glenn Sabastian Lyon, 38, of Houston, was convicted of criminal mischief in 1995 at the age of 20. He was sentenced to two years probation, and paid $4891.32 restitution.
- Michael LaShay Pierson, 40, of Lancaster, was convicted of unlawfully carrying a weapon in 1993 at the age of 20. He was sentenced to pay a $100 fine.
- Kari Lynn (Cook) Price, 38, of Hillsboro, was convicted of debit card abuse in 1993 at the age of 19. She was sentenced to five years deferred adjudication probation, and given a $1,500 fine and paid $510 restitution.
- Suzi Kim (Brown) Prokell, 41, of Aledo, was convicted of credit card abuse in 1991 at the age of 19. She was sentenced to 10 years in prison, which was probated for six years, and given a $1,000 fine and paid $200 restitution.
- Raul Alejandro Ruiz, 38, of San Antonio, was convicted of unlawfully carrying a weapon in 1992 at the age of 18. He was sentenced to 22 days in jail, and paid a $400 fine.
- Matthew Tristan, 45, of Humble, was convicted of assault in 1985 at the age of 18. He was sentenced to 21 days in jail.
- David Martin Gonzales, 57, of Corpus Christi, was convicted of a violation of a protective order and assault in 2000 at the age of 45. For the violation of a protective order, he was sentenced to 10 years in prison, which was probated for five years. For the assault, he was sentenced to 30 days in jail and paid $6,304.00 restitution.
- Charles Henry Havens, 43, of Fate, was convicted of assault in 1987 at the age of 18 and theft in 1988 at the age of 19. For the assault, he was sentenced to three months of deferred adjudication probation and paid a $100 fine. For the theft, he was sentenced to six months of deferred adjudication probation and paid a $100 fine.
Click here to search our database of Perry's previous pardons.