RELIGION

California governor grants 72 pardons, commutes sentences

Gov. Jerry Brown announced Saturday that he has pardoned 72 ex-convicts, continuing his tradition of timing his decisions around major Christian holidays including Easter.

Brown, a former Jesuit seminarian, limited his pardons to people who were convicted of drug offenses and other lower-level crimes and who have already completed their sentences. He also issued seven commutations.

Those pardoned included three people who served in the U.S. military but were deported to Mexico after completing sentences for various crimes and a teenage mother who killed her newborn child after giving birth in a bathtub.

None of the decisions were as notable as his pardon of Robert Downey Jr. in December 2015 for a 1996 drug conviction that sent the actor to prison for nearly a year. Downey was imprisoned for violating his probation after he was convicted of felony drug possession in Los Angeles County. His life and career have since rebounded.

Such pardons don't erase the convictions. But state and federal law enforcement agencies are informed, and pardons become public records.

California's longest-serving governor has now issued 1,330 pardons, including 404 during his first two terms as governor from 1975 to 1983.

Pardons were rare for his three immediate predecessors.

Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger gave out 15, Democrat Gray Davis granted none, and Republican Pete Wilson granted 13.

Brown's office says earlier Republican governors were more generous, with Ronald Reagan granting nearly 600 and George Deukmejian more than 300.