Missouri Gov. Mike Parson Continues Increased Pardon Pace

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson (R) continues to pardon people, setting an increased pace in forgiving people convicted for past crimes not seen in the state since the 1940s. In the past three years alone, Parson has issued 613 pardons and 20 commutations.

This is more than any Missouri governor since Republican Gov. Forrest Donnell granted almost 1,700 pardons from 1941-1945.

Parson has denied about 2,400 clemency requests.

In Missouri, clemency requests are sent to the governor after first being screened by the Board of Probation and Parole. This board sends the governor those who they think should be pardoned. This is a confidential process.

As there is no time limit on these requests once they’re sent to the governor, Gov. Parson found himself with a large backlog of requests upon coming into office. Some of the requests were even originally sent to the governor’s office two governors ago.

Because Parson’s administration inherited a large backlog, they decided to try to evaluate at least 100 cases a month. Parson has a monthly schedule where he announces new pardons and commutations.

This increased pace of pardons coincides with a national movement to help people who have served criminal sentences. This movement encourages pardons to help restore peoples’ rights when they’ve successfully completed their time for their crimes.

Pardons are often considered forgiveness for past crimes, yet in an official capacity. When someone is pardoned, they are able to restore the rights that were taken from them once they were found guilty of committing a crime. Therefore, pardoned people are once again able to have certain rights, such as owning a firearm.

Pardoning also helps people with employment, as a criminal record can often keep many from obtaining jobs.

This movement also marks a new change in how many states and governments view crimes and pardons. In the late 20th century, the government often had a tough-on-crime outlook. Many politicians ran on this theme. However, now many politicians are acting similarly to how some American governors acted decades ago, during the World War II era.

In the late 1930s and into the 1940s, pardons and commutations were common compared to what was considered normal in the past few decades. Now, Gov. Parson and other state governors, such as Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers (D), are pardoning more people and setting a new tone in the country, according to analysts.

Parson worked as a rural sheriff for about a dozen years. Therefore, he knows the justice system — and believes people should be held responsible for crimes they commit.

However, he also believes that people can change. Parson told AP News that those who have committed crimes in the past should be held accountable, but “it doesn’t mean they’re a criminal all their life.”