MADISON — Gov. Tony Evers has pardoned four convicted felons, marking the first time a governor has granted a pardon in Wisconsin since 2010.
Evers signed the pardons during private meetings Monday with the recipients.
Evers, a Democrat, campaigned on the promise to reform the pardons board after his predecessor Scott Walker disbanded it and never issued a pardon over eight years.
Evers pardoned Eric Pizer, Kevin Sorenson, Mwangi Vasser and Steven Nichols.
Pizer is now 38 and has a felony conviction from a bar fight he got into when he was 22. The former Marine is seeking a career in law enforcement.
Sorenson, 36, a career U.S. Air Force civilian employee, was convicted of selling the drug ecstasy at a party when he was 17. He hopes to be eligible for additional military service opportunities.
Vasser is 40 and was 19 when he was arrested for selling cocaine. He holds a doctorate in theology and hopes to pursue being a chaplain in the U.S. military.
The 62-year-old Nichols was convicted of felony burglary when he was 21. The farm owner hopes to be able to hunt again and travel to Canada to participate in the Calgary Stampede.
“A pardon can profoundly impact a person’s life by offering them an official grant of forgiveness,” Evers said in a statement. “Mr. Nichols, Mr. Pizer, Mr. Sorenson, and Rev. Vasser have paid their debt to society, made amends, and contributed to their communities. I believe they deserve a second chance.”
Except for the Walker administration, every Wisconsin governor in modern history has granted pardons, Evers said. Most recently, Republican Gov. Tommy Thompson granted 238 pardons, GOP Gov. Scott McCallum granted 24 pardons and Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle granted more than 300 pardons.
Under an executive order Evers signed to re-create the pardon process, individuals convicted of a Wisconsin felony may apply for a pardon if they completed their sentence at least five years ago and have not committed any new crimes. Individuals currently required to register on the sex offender registry are ineligible for a pardon.