In keeping with his tradition of granting clemency on or near major holidays, California Gov. Jerry Brown granted 143 pardons and 131 commutations on Christmas Eve. However, he did not show leniency to the older brother of San Francisco Mayor London Breed, who has served nearly two decades of a 44-year sentence for manslaughter, according to reports.
The San Francisco Chronicle reported that Breed’s brother, Napoleon Brown, was not pardoned despite her family’s request.
Breed said last week that people who break the law should face consequences, but also have a chance at redemption. “Too many people, particularly young black men like my brother was when he was convicted, are not given an opportunity to become contributing members of society after they have served time in prison,” she said.
Brown, who struggled with drugs from a young age, recently was caught with heroin in prison and had two years added to his sentence, KNTV reported.
Breed, 44, who was a defense witness for her brother at his trial, has spoken out about her rough upbringing in San Francisco public housing.
Her brother, who is now 46, pushed Lenties White from a getaway car on the Golden Gate Bridge after an armed robbery in June 2000. White, 25, was struck by a vehicle and died.
Sandra McNeil, the mother of the victim, said Brown does not deserve early release.
“I don’t think it would be justice,” she said. “She’s the mayor, so she’s got a little power, so she thinks she can get her brother out.”
Among those who were granted Christmas Eve pardons by Brown are five refugees from Cambodia and an immigrant from Honduras -- all of whom are facing the possibility of deportation because of criminal convictions -- two people who lost their homes in a recent wildfire and a former state official. Brown's commutations included several former gang members who have renounced their former ties and will now have an opportunity to petition the parole board for early release.
Gov. Brown has now granted 283 commutations and 1,332 pardons since returning to office in 2011, far more than any California governor since at least the 1940s. The governor needs approval from the state Supreme Court to pardon or commute the sentence of anyone twice convicted of a felony. The court in recent weeks has rejected seven clemency requests by the governor, including one Monday.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.