MADISON, Wis. (WSAU) - Outgoing Governor Jim Doyle has pardoned 74 convicted criminals in the last two weeks, bringing the total for the year to 177. That’s much more than in any of his previous seven years in office.
And Doyle’s pardons since December 15th were more than the 51 he granted in all of 2009. None of the latest pardons appear to involve prominent or politically-connected people. Their crimes ranged from fleeing police to second-degree sexual assault. Doyle was recently criticized by Republicans for the numbers of pardons he granted.
But he did not approve them all. Doyle did not act on a pardon request from the late Laurie Bembenek, the former Milwaukee police officer convicted of killing her former husband’s ex-wife in the early 1980’s. Bembenek tried for years to clear her name before she died in November. Also, the governor refused to commute a pair of 80-year prison sentences in a pair of Milwaukee robberies.
State pardons do not remove convictions – but they restore rights such as voting, gun ownership, and the ability to get state licenses.