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For Some With Minn. Criminal Pasts, Pardons Come

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(credit: Jupiter Images)

(credit: Jupiter Images)

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Minnesota’s highest officials on Tuesday gave second chances to seven people with criminal pasts, granting them pardons.

The Board of Pardons agreed to the redemptive step after being persuaded that the seven people had served their time, atoned for their mistakes and turned their lives around. The board rejected more pardons than it granted.

The board is made up of Gov. Mark Dayton, Attorney General Lori Swanson and Supreme Court Chief Justice Lori Gildea. Decisions must be unanimous for a pardon to be granted.

Pardons were approved for applicants with convictions for drug use, theft and forgery.

The move can remove job obstacles or just ease embarrassment. The “pardon extraordinary” decisions effectively nullify convictions and, with rare exceptions, absolve offenders of responsibility to disclose them. Those seeking a pardon must have completed any sentence to be eligible.

Jeana Raines had found it difficult to pursue an accounting career because of a nearly 2-decade-old misdemeanor conviction for check forgery and wrongfully obtaining assistance. The convictions, she said, came as she struggled to escape a disastrous marriage while raising three young daughters. She has since paid restitution and achieved two college degrees.

“That was the most miserable time in my life,” Raines told the board. “I did what I did and to this day I feel horrible about it.”

Raines won the pardon.

Pardons were denied in cases of sexual misconduct, assault and possession of child pornography. The board historically has avoided pardons for crimes involving weapons, bodily harm or sex abuse. They also tend to turn back cases where applicants still don’t accept full responsibility for their actions of years ago.

For one 32-year-old, nine theft-related convictions and 26 arrests in a short timeframe was too much to overcome, despite his assurances that he had changed his ways and testimony from a character witness.

“Too much, too recent,” Swanson said as she moved to reject the pardon. Dayton and Gildea chimed in with their own no votes.

(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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