Northam wraps term with more than 1,200 pardons granted


AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File – Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — As Gov. Ralph Northam finishes his final week in office, he leaves the Commonwealth having pardoned more than 1,200 people throughout his four years. In addition, he restored civil rights to more than 126,000 people during his term.

Virginia governors are able to grant pardons and restore civil rights to convicted felons. Upon receiving a pardon, the crime or crimes are not removed from a person’s record. The governor can grant simple, conditional or absolute pardons.

“Virginians are forgiving people, who believe in second chances,” Northam said. “When people make mistakes, and pay their debts, they deserve the opportunity to return and be productive members of society. We can all be proud that Virginia has been able to provide thousands of deserving people the opportunity for a fresh start.” 

Convicted criminals are able to petition for their pardon and the governor reviews those along with a team of staff. According to Northam’s office, the governor granted pardons to people who had “demonstrated a commitment to rehabilitation.” Northam’s administration acted on around 4,000 petitions during his term.

“It has been an honor to work with a Governor who is so committed to second chances,” said Secretary of the Commonwealth Kelly Thomasson. 

Thomasson was responsible for signing off on certificates to restore people’s civil rights. Felons in Virginia are stripped of their right to vote, serve on a jury, run for office, become a public notary, and carry a firearm. In order to regain those rights, they must be granted by the governor.

Thomasson said, “It is my hope that future administrations continue this important work.”

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