Gov. Martin O'Malley issued six pardons to former convicts on Thursday afternoon, the second time in two weeks he has exercised the power after declining to use it during his first 2 1/2 years in office.
Only one of those pardoned had served jail time, and that was seven days for petty theft. The crimes included minor thefts, disorderly conduct and possession of marijuana. Sentencing dates ranged from December 1978 to February 1996.
FOR THE RECORD - An article in Thursday's editions incorrectly reported that six pardons issued by Gov. Martin O'Malley were the second set in recent weeks. They were the first pardons of his term, although the six names were among seven advertised two weeks ago, as required by law.
The Baltimore Sun regrets the error.
O'Malley pardoned seven other ex-convicts in June. Before that, he had used his clemency powers only to release two prisoners suffering from AIDS.
The governor opposes the death penalty, which has been on de facto moratorium in the state since December 2006, but has said he's unlikely to use his clemency powers liberally. He has said that his time as a big-city mayor lent him a unique perspective on crime and has resulted in a tough approach to many pardon requests.
More than 600 pardon requests are pending in the state. O'Malley's predecessor, Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., used his clemency powers more liberally, pardoning or commuting the sentences of 249 applicants, according to a recent report in The Washington Post.
O'Malley granted pardons Thursday to Christopher Bratton, Sonora Michelle Savage Hardy, Betty Davis Purdue, Linda Louise Sawyer Seward, John Michael Spiridon and Darrell Leon Williams. All now can petition a court to have their records expunged.
An ex-convict has to be crime-free from the date of sentencing and out of prison or off probation for at least five years (longer for felons) to apply for a pardon.
"What we find for most people is that it allows them to apply for jobs they couldn't otherwise apply for," said David Blumberg, chairman of the Maryland Parole Commission. "Some people just want to clear their names."