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Gov. DeWine grants pardon to local man

Gov. Mike DeWine
Gov. Mike DeWine

Gov. Mike DeWine granted his first pardon as governor to James Earl Young, a man convicted of drug trafficking in Montgomery County in 1989.

DeWine, a former Greene County prosecutor, plans to make decisions on clemency periodically, rather than in a large batch at the end of the year as other governors have done, said Press Secretary Dan Tierney. More decisions on more than 400 pending clemency applications are expected in the coming weeks, he said.

The Ohio Constitution authorizes the governor to issue commutations or pardons. A commutation lessens the punishment for a crime and a pardon wipes it off the offender’s record.

The governor is required to wait until the Ohio Parole Board makes a recommendation before deciding a clemency request. In the first six months of 2019, the Parole Board reviewed 164 clemency requests – 76 commutations, 86 pardons, 1 reprieve and 1 death row case. The board was in favor of clemency in four of the 164 cases reviewed.

RELATED: DeWine puts parole system under review — twice

The Parole Board recommended that Young be pardoned for his crimes — three counts of aggravated trafficking. He was convicted in December 1989 and sentenced to 12 to 40 years in prison but was paroled in February 1999.

The pardon was added to Young’s case file in the Montgomery County Clerk of Courts on Wednesday.

Young could not be immediately reached for comment.

RELATED: Kasich rarely grants clemency

Former Gov. John Kasich granted clemency — pardons, paroles, commutations or reprieves —in 6.6 percent of the cases he decided in his first two-and-a-half years in office.

During his four years as governor from 2007 to 2011, Democrat Ted Strickland granted 160 clemency requests, or 22.9 percent of the 849 applications decided.

Former Gov. Bob Taft, a Republican, granted 77 clemency requests, or 5.7 percent of the 1,355 applications received and processed during his eight years as governor.

Shortening sentences and wiping out criminal records can be politically dicey. In his final days in state office in 1991, Democrat Richard Celeste sparked controversy and headlines when he commuted the sentences of eight death row inmates to life without parole and granted pardons for 25 women who blamed their crimes on battered women syndrome.