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'I believe in forgiveness': Gov. Tony Evers re-launches pardon board
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'I believe in forgiveness': Gov. Tony Evers re-launches pardon board

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Democratic Gov. Tony Evers announced Thursday he has reconstituted the state’s pardon board, which was inactive under former Republican Gov. Scott Walker.

“I believe in forgiveness and the power of redemption,” Evers said in a statement. “People who have taken responsibility for their mistakes and who have worked to improve their lives and communities deserve a second chance.”

The state Constitution grants the governor the power to pardon individuals convicted of a crime, which Wisconsin governors from both parties have traditionally used. Walker, however, declined to do so.

The board will make recommendations to Evers on whom he should grant a pardon.

Under Evers’ executive order announced Thursday, those convicted of a felony may apply for a pardon if they finished their sentence at least five years ago and haven’t committed new crimes. Those required to register on the sex offender registry are ineligible for a pardon.

A pardon does not erase or seal the conviction but restores some rights lost, including the right to hold public office and carry some professional licenses, according to the governor’s office.

Evers appointed eight people to the board, which will be led by his top lawyer, Ryan Nilsestuen.

Other members include:

  • Jerry Hancock, director of the Prison Ministry Project. He previously served as a public defender, deputy district attorney, and an administrator for the Department of Justice’s Division of Law Enforcement Services.
  • Nate Holton, director of diversity and inclusion for the Milwaukee County Transit System. He previously served as the deputy chief of staff in the Milwaukee County executive’s office and the director of the Milwaukee County Justice Council.
  • Cindy O’Donnell, who served as deputy secretary of the Department of Corrections under three previous governors.
  • Nadya Pérez-Reyes, legislative adviser for the Department of Children and Families. She previously worked as a state public defender and as an attorney for Legal Action of Wisconsin.
  • Myrna Warrington, director of vocational rehabilitation on the Menominee Indian Reservation and a U.S. Army veteran. She has been a member of the Menominee Tribal Legislature for 11 years.
  • Noble Wray, who served with the Madison Police Department for almost 28 years, including as chief of police from 2004 to 2013. Wray led the U.S. Justice Department’s Policing Practices and Accountability Initiative and currently provides racial bias training for law enforcement agencies around the nation and world.

The board also includes Jeffrey Kremers, who was appointed by Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul. Kremers retired in 2018, but served as a Milwaukee County Circuit Court judge for 26 years.

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