Gov. Evers pardons nearly 160 people, extending state record

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Democratic Gov. Tony Evers pardoned nearly 160 more people on Friday, most of them for relatively low-level offenses ranging from drug dealing and possession to theft.

That extends his record number of pardons to 933 during four years in office, easily the most of any Wisconsin governor. His predecessor, Republican Scott Walker, didn’t issue a single pardon during his two terms.

“Each pardon recipient’s journey is unique, and each deserves the opportunity for a new start,” Evers said in a statement announcing the 159 new pardons.

Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle granted almost 300 pardons during his two terms. Republican Govs. Tommy Thompson and Scott McCallum issued 262 pardons before Doyle took office.

A pardon doesn’t erase or seal a conviction, but it does restore the right to own a gun; to vote; to be on a jury; to hold public office; and to hold various licenses. A pardon also doesn’t keep someone’s criminal record from showing up on background checks, but applicants often argue that clemency makes them more attractive to employers.

An Associated Press review of federal and state incarceration data showed that, between 1975 and 2019, the U.S. prison population jumped from 240,593 to 1.43 million Americans. Among them, about 1 in 5 people were incarcerated with a drug offense listed as their most serious crime.