All seven pardons Gov. Maura Healey recommended won approval from the Governor’s Council on Wednesday, cementing the first pardons awarded by a Massachusetts governor during their first elected year in office in three decades.
Healey in June proposed the pardons, which had earned the support of the Parole Board before Gov. Charlie Baker left office in January, when she also announced that she is planning to reform the clemency process to make it fairer, more timely and minimize racial disparities.
The Governor’s Council, which reviews and approves the governor’s clemency recommendations and judicial nominations, voted unanimously in favor of all seven pardons.
“I think our next seven items are pretty exciting for all of us,” Lt. Gov. Kim Driscoll, who chairs the Governor’s Council, said to councilors ahead of the pardon votes on Wednesday. “The opportunity to move forward with affirming pardons proposed by the administration — an administration that in its first year of office, this is the first time in any recent memory that an administration has moved forward with pardons.”
The pardons are aimed at people convicted on a variety of charges, one dating back more than half a century: Edem Amet, who was convicted in 1995 on drug charges; Xavier Delvalle, who was convicted in 2006 on breaking and entering and larceny charges; Glendon King, who was convicted in 1992 on drug charges; John Latter, who was convicted of arson in 1966; Deborah Pickard, who was convicted on several charges between 1982 and 1987; Gerald Waloewandja, who was convicted of drug charges in 2003; and Terrance Williams, who was convicted of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon in 1984.
All seven pardons were recommended by the Parole Board during Baker’s tenure, but Baker did not act on them before he left office in January, according to a Healey administration official.
“I just want to thank you and the governor,” Councilor Marilyn Petitto Devaney told Driscoll during Wednesday’s meeting. “I tried to hard to get the former governor to bring these forward, and you’ve started off so early with this, that we’re going to have a wonderful administration and I look forward to more pardons.”
Other councilors echoed Devaney’s statements, saying they looked forward to approving more pardons, which forgive offenses, and commutations, which reduce sentences.
When Healey recommended the pardons in June, she said some of the individuals on the list face “barriers and uncertainties” in their lives today as a result of their criminal records.
Latter, who was convicted about 57 years ago, is unable to obtain a nursing license in Florida because of his record, while Williams has been denied a position at a private security company six times due to his conviction, according to Healey’s office.
Williams — who had long wanted to become a police officer — joked in June that he is “too old for the academy” but said he’s “not too old to help our community out.” He called the process of securing a pardon recommendation a “long journey.”
“We really need to look at people who are out there just like me, who just made a mistake years ago who just want that opportunity to come back to society,” Williams said. “I never gave up.”
King is a U.S. Army veteran who has worked for the Boston Fire Department for more than two decades. He told reporters that the pardon would lift a weight from his shoulders and also allow him to exercise his Second Amendment firearms rights.
“For a gentleman that’s got a good head on his shoulders to be labeled a convicted felon for years is not a good thing,” King said. “I’ve done everything by the book, everything right. I just want to get rid of that label.”
Healey’s office has said she is the first governor to issue pardons during her first year in office since former Gov. Bill Weld did so in 1991.
Despite the initial flurry, the Parole Board announced Monday that it will not continue advancing any pardon requests to Healey’s desk until the governor finishes a promised review of the clemency process.
“In the Governor’s first announcement of executive clemency, she indicated that the Administration is currently working to modernize the state’s clemency guidelines to center fairness and racial and gender equity,” Timothy McGuirk of the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security told the News Service. “That process requires meaningful engagement with a broad range of stakeholders before issuing new guidelines later this year. To ensure current and future petitioners participate in a clemency process guided by the new framework, the Parole Board, functioning as Advisory Board of Pardons, will not schedule new clemency hearings until the update is complete.”
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