President Joe Biden pardoned six individuals Friday who had already completed sentences for their offenses, including drug-related crimes and second-degree murder, and had become active in their communities following their release.
The White House said Biden was a believer in second chances and that those he pardoned Friday had “demonstrated a commitment to improving their communities and the lives of those around them.”
The list includes Beverly Ann Ibn-Tamas, an 80-year-old Ohio woman who was convicted of murder for shooting her husband when she was 33. She testified her husband physically assaulted her and threatened her in the moments before she killed him, but the court did not allow expert testimony regarding “battered woman syndrome.” On appeal, she was sentenced to a term of up to five years, a moment considered significant toward judicial recognition of battered woman syndrome.
Also on the list is a 66-year-old Arizona man, Gary Parks Davis, who pleaded guilty to using a telephone to conduct a cocaine transaction when he was 22. He served a six month sentence and completed probation in 1981, and has since earned a bachelors degree and volunteers in his community.
Edward Lincoln De Coito III, a 50-year-old California man, pleaded guilty to a marijuana trafficking charge when he was 23. He served more than a year in prison and has since served in the US Army and Army reserves.
Vincente Ray Flores was court martialed when he was around 19 for consuming ecstasy and alcohol while serving in the military. After being sentenced to four months confinement, he participated in a return-to-duty program and remains on active duty, earning various honors from the military.
It’s not unprecedented for a president to use pardon authority for a military court martial, but in the past it has not been without controversy. In 2019, then-President Donald Trump pardoned two former service members and restored the rank of a third who were accused of much more serious crimes than Flores.
At the time, Defense Secretary Mark Esper and other senior military leaders told Trump a presidential pardon could damage the integrity of the military judicial system and ability of military leaders to ensure good order and discipline.
Charlie Byrnes Jackson, of South Carolina, pleaded guilty to an illegal whiskey transaction when he was 18. After completing his probation in 1969, he’s been active in his community, including helping renovate his church.
And John Dix Nock III, a 72-year-old Florida man, pleaded guilty to a charge related to a marijuana grow house. He completed community confinement in 1997, and since then has worked as a general contractor and helped mentor younger people looking to join the profession.
A White House official said the pardons were granted through a “deliberative process” that was coordinated closely with the Department of Justice.
The six pardons Biden issued on Friday came after he issued a wide-ranging pardon for all prior federal offenses of simple marijuana possession, a move that senior administration officials said would affect thousands of Americans charged with that crime.
The first pardons of Biden’s presidency came in April when he issued full pardons for three individuals along with commuting the sentences of 75 people serving time for nonviolent drug offenses as part of “Second Chance Month.”
“President Biden believes America is a nation of second chances, and that offering meaningful opportunities for redemption and rehabilitation empowers those who have been incarcerated to become productive, law-abiding members of society,” a White House official said Friday. “The President remains committed to providing second chances to individuals who have demonstrated their rehabilitation.”