Board recommends three pardons, more may be coming
Governor Deval Patrick is considering three men for pardons, including two individuals with drug convictions in the 1990s and one who was incarcerated in an armed assault that occurred in 1989.
Parole Board chairman Joshua Wall, who was involved in making the recommendations, disclosed the information Friday during a hearing before the Governor’s Council, which is weighing his judicial nomination. The Governor’s Council must vote on any pardon or commutation recommendations that the governor makes, under the state Constitution.
The last time there was a gubernatorial pardon was in 2002 under Acting Governor Jane Swift, when seven pardons were approved. Since he took office in 2007, Patrick has never recommended pardoning anyone.
“I do have good news to report in that area: There are going to be some,” Wall told the council. Patrick has nominated Wall to serve on the Superior Court, and his nomination has generated support and opposition.
The people recommended for pardons are True-See Allah, 43, who was convicted of armed assault with attempt to murder for his participation in a 1989 shooting, though he was not the shooter; Jeffrey Snyder, 43, who was convicted of two drug offenses in 1995 for bringing marijuana to school when he was a high school student; and Edem Amet, 42, a Georgia resident, who was convicted of three drug offenses while he was a college student in Springfield in 1994 and 1995.
Wall said Patrick will “definitely” pardon some people before he leaves office, adding that he believes there could be more than three. The Parole Board will make additional recommendations, he said.
Wall said he thinks pardons matter to Patrick and that pardons and clemency are part of rehabilitation. “That is my belief, too,” Wall said.
As the chairman of the Advisory Board of Pardons, a function of the Parole Board, Wall said he is one of the architects of changes to the guidelines that will make it easier for people to get pardons and commutations of their sentences.
On Friday, Wall described the changes to the parole and commutation guidelines when answering questions about Parole Board rates and the time it takes for parole decisions to be released.
Under the previous guidelines, only someone with a “compelling need” was eligible for a pardon, Wall said. Typically someone must demonstrate they have a compelling need because of employment, immigration status, or firearms licensure related to employment, said a lawyer for the Patrick administration.
“One of the things that struck me is why do they have to have a compelling reason,” Wall said.
The revamped guidelines will make it possible for someone to receive a pardon if they have made an “extraordinary contribution” in their community, Wall said.
The guidelines around pardons were finalized in January, and guidelines for commutations were finished in July.
Previously, someone who sought a pardon to avoid consequences related to their immigration status would find it difficult to receive one, Wall said. That changes under the new guidelines.
For example, Wall said, the board recently held a hearing for a man who would have been ineligible for pardon under the old standards because of his immigration status. He has been very involved in his church and wanted to become a US citizen.
“He applied for citizenship, and that’s how people knew he had a criminal record,” Wall said, referring to Amet.
Andy Metzger contributed to this report.