BOSTON (AP) — Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker has ordered the state board of pardons to withdraw guidelines put into effect last year by then-Gov. Deval Patrick that made it easier to appeal for clemency.
Patrick’s changes made commutations possible for those serving harsh sentences for nonviolent offenses and allowed pardons for those who could show they’ve made an extraordinary contribution to their community.
Actor Mark Wahlberg has a pending request for a pardon for violent assaults he committed as a teenager in Boston in 1988, and Massachusetts Parole Board Executive Director Janis Smith said Wahlberg’s pardon request and others that have already been submitted under last year’s guidelines will remain before the board.
Patrick, a Democrat, and Baker, a Republican, have both said that Wahlberg should not receive any special treatment.
Smith said in an email to The Associated Press that clemency guidelines are typically issued by each governor and do not need to go through any regulatory process.
Tim Buckley, a spokesman for Baker, said the administration “withdrew the current clemency guidelines to allow for time to draft new ones so that petitions sent to the governor are not considered under his predecessor’s” guidelines.
In a letter dated Jan. 9 to the parole board — one day after Baker was sworn in as governor — Baker’s legal counsel, Lon Povich, ordered the guidelines issued by Patrick in January and July of last year withdrawn. The parole board also acts as the state Advisory Board of Pardons.
“Governor Baker will develop and promulgate new executive clemency guidelines in due course,” Povich wrote.
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Wahlberg wants to be officially cleared of a 1988 incident in which he hit a Vietnamese man in the head with a wooden stick while trying to steal alcohol from a convenience store. Wahlberg, then 16, punched another Vietnamese man in the face while trying to avoid police.
Wahlberg said he’s dedicated himself to becoming a better person as an adult. Under the old guidelines, applicants had to show they had a compelling reason to obtain a pardon, such as the need to find employment.
The July guidelines issued by Patrick and withdrawn by Baker also set a timetable of three months for the board to hold a hearing and make recommendations to the governor on those pardon requests deemed worthy of possible action.
Before leaving office, Patrick recommended four pardons and one commutation. All five were subsequently approved by the Governor’s Council.
Patrick’s pardons were the first of his two terms and the first issued since 2002 under then-acting Republican Gov. Jane Swift.
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