Kentucky Pardons Called ‘Absolute Atrocity of Justice’

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Before leaving office this week, Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin issued 428 pardons, some for people who committed violent offenses. His list included a man convicted of reckless homicide, a child rapist, a man who murdered his parents at age 16 and a woman who threw her newborn in the trash after giving birth in a flea market outhouse. He pardoned Dayton Jones, convicted in the sexual assault of a 15-year-old boy at a party. Bevin’s actions boggled some prosecutors, who questioned his judgment, the Washington Post reports. “What this governor did is an absolute atrocity of justice,” said Jackie Steele, prosecutor for Knox and Laurel counties. “He’s put victims, he’s put others in our community in danger.” Bevin’s response: “I’m a big believer in second chances … If there has been a change and there’s no further value that comes for the individual, for society, for the victims, for anybody, if a person continues to stay in, then that’s when somebody should be considered for a commutation or a pardon.”

Victims of the pardoned criminals had no warning. Eddy Montgomery, a prosecutor for three counties, found out through news reports and rushed to inform families before they were blindsided. “We’re pretty shocked about it,” he said. He cited the pardon of Brett Whittaker, a man convicted for killing a pastor and his wife while driving under the influence in 2011. Whittaker was on probation for a separate assault. Steele was particularly disturbed by the pardon of Patrick Brian Baker, whose brother hosted a fundraiser for Bevin and donated to him over the years. Baker was convicted of reckless homicide, robbery, impersonating a peace officer and tampering with evidence for his role in a home invasion that resulted in a death. Steele, who prosecuted Baker, noted that Bevin did not pardon his co-conspirators.

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