Colorado governor Bill Owens is stingy in granting pardons and commutations, as was his predecessor, Roy Romer, reports the Denver Post. Since 1963, Colorado’s chief executives have granted an annual average of 29 pardons and commutations of sentence for Colorado inmates. Between 1966 and 1986, they averaged 53 a year.
Owens has granted commutation, or early release, to only one inmate: a convicted car thief suffering from rapidly advancing cancer, said Mark Noel, director of the state office of extraditions and clemency. Owens let that inmate out for treatment in 2000, a year and a half before his scheduled parole. Four inmates, including some violent criminals, applied to have their sentences commuted this year. All were denied release.
Owens did pardon two men on Christmas Eve who were convicted of minor crimes decades ago. One, 68-year-old Odell Fennell, was convicted of stealing hub caps from a Sheriff’s Department patrol car in 1953 and shooting a calf a few months later. The other, 45-year-old Perry Russell, was convicted of shoplifting in 1976.
The men were pardoned because they have been good citizens since their convictions. “They’ve lived pretty good lives,” Noel said. “We look at their entire life as best we can, and those were the final two. Of all the cases we looked at, they seemed to be the most deserving.”