Brownback has no plans to pardon any Kansas inmates

Gov. Sam Brownback will not be giving any Kansas inmates the gift of freedom this year.

None of the 37 clemency petitions filed in 2011 asking the governor for a pardon will be granted as the year comes to a close.

“The governor has no plans to issue any pardons before the end of the year,” said Sherriene Jones-Sontag, press secretary for the governor.

The Kansas Constitution gives the governor sole authority to issue pardons, but applicants file the petition with the Prison Review Board. The board reviews applications and sends them to the governor’s office.

Pardons, which do not erase a person’s conviction but free him or her from prison or parole obligations, are not common in the state. Former Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius issued only one pardon during her six years as governor: in 2009 to a Kansas businessman convicted of drunken driving. The man had been having difficulty entering Canada for business because of the conviction.

Gov. Mark Parkinson, however, issued four pardons during his less than two years as governor.

Three of those pardons went to members of the “Wichita 8,” a group of black men convicted by an all-white Sedgwick County jury in 1969 of various robbery charges. In 2009, Parkinson pardoned Wichita 8 member Samuel Jarvis Hunt, followed by Frederick Umoja and John Manning at the very end of his term in early 2011. All three were assisted by the Kansas University’s Project for Innocence and Post-Conviction Remedies.

Parkinson also pardoned Orvel Bald Ridge, a member of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, in early 2011. Ridge was convicted of assault in the 1970s, and was planning to run for office in the Cherokee Nation, but needed a pardon to do so.