Wisconsin Gov. Evers appoints pardon advisory board

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Gov. Tony Evers re-created Wisconsin’s pardons board Thursday, fulfilling a campaign promise to again consider granting pardons after his Republican predecessor, Scott Walker, halted the process eight years ago.

Evers, a Democrat, is putting his own mark on the process, declining to consider commutation of prison sentences as previous governors did and instituting a new restriction making people on the sex offender registry ineligible.

Evers campaigned on the promise of re-starting the pardon board, but it took him six months to get it done. The state constitution gives the governor the power to grant pardons, so Evers doesn’t need approval from the Republican-controlled Legislature, which so far has blocked most of his agenda.

His executive order released Thursday creates a nine-member pardon advisory board chaired by the governor’s top lawyer, with appointees by Evers.

More than 1,400 pardon requests were pending when Walker stopped the process in November 2011 without explanation.

A pardon doesn’t erase or seal a conviction, but it does restore the right to own a gun, to vote, to be on a jury, to hold public office and to hold various licenses. A pardon doesn’t keep a person’s criminal record from showing up on background checks.

The first board appointed by Evers includes former Madison Police Chief Noble Wray, who retired in 2013; Jerry Hancock, director of the Prison Ministry Project; and retired Milwaukee County Circuit Judge Jeffrey Kremers, who stepped down in 2018 after 26 years as a judge. Evers’ attorney, Ryan Nilsestuen, will chair the board.