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Arizona governor has granted 1 pardon so far in 1st term

Posted at 10:13 AM, Mar 12, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-12 13:13:01-04

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey has granted only one pardon and five reduced sentences as he nears the end of his first term in office.

The Arizona Capitol Times reports that the Republican governor's clemency record stands in contrast to his call for having a more humane criminal justice system with real second chances for people.

Daniel Scarpinato, Ducey's spokesman, challenged the idea that Ducey has been inactive on clemency. He said the governor and his staff spend a great deal of time analyzing each case on its unique facts before deciding whether to support or deny a commutation or pardon.

"Just because one hasn't been granted doesn't mean we were inactive, it means we took the time to give it the attention it deserves, looked at it closely before making a decision," Scarpinato said.

Ducey weighs the person seeking the pardon alongside any victims of the crimes they committed, Scarpinato said.

Jan Brewer, a Republican, granted 13 pardons, though 12 of those came on her last day in office, according to documents from the Clemency Board.

Democrat Janet Napolitano granted 22 pardons, the documents show.

The pardon granted by Ducey went to Michael Scow, who was sentenced to probation for a motorcycle theft in 1972. His civil rights were restored in 1974. His right to own a firearm was restored in 2013. He worked in maintenance and repairs for police motorcycles for the Reno Police Department and the city of Reno for 28 years.

In December 2013, he was denied a handgun purchase because Nevada law says a person convicted of a felony can't own a gun unless they have been pardoned.

The Arizona Board of Executive Clemency said Scow "embodies the true purpose of Arizona's criminal justice system" because he hasn't committed any crimes since his initial conviction, and he has contributed to society and his community. Ducey granted Scow's pardon a year ago.

The governor has granted just five commutations, or reduced sentences, all but one for people who were near death.

This week, he denied a reduced sentence for a former Phoenix police officer, Richard Chrisman, who shot an unarmed man while on duty.

"I have seen virtually no evidence that the governor and his office recognize the important opportunities they have on the clemency and commutation front," said Larry Hammond, an attorney and president of the Arizona Justice Project.

The governor's interest in criminal justice reform has largely focused on the re-entry process, helping people find jobs and access services once they leave prison, Scarpinato said.

"In terms of washing away an entire record, you'd really need to be a very unique circumstance because that's a big decision for a governor to make after a judge and jury have made a decision and victims have been involved," Scarpinato said.