Colorado Gov. Squeezes 33 More Clemencies on Last Day in Office

Only a week after Colorado's Governor John Hickenlooper granted clemency for six Colorado offenders, he ordered clemency for 33 others. This brings his total to 156 pardons and 18 commutations during his eight years in office.


Timing of Colorado Clemency GrantsColorado Clemency


Clemencies are often issued in December, as were Hickenlooper's, perhaps because the Christmas season is a time of generosity and forgiveness. It may also have something to do with governors reaching the ends of their terms and minimizing the chances of political blowback for showing some mercy.


Still, the 21 pardons and 12 commutations most recently given by Hickenlooper are not too controversial.


U.S. Supreme Court Decision About Juveniles Sentenced to Life; Gov. Hickenlooper Speeds Up the Process


After the Supreme Court decided in 2016 that it is unconstitutional to sentence juveniles automatically to life without parole, the state legislature passed a law so those affected by the change would be resentenced. In Colorado, 48 prisoners became eligible for amended sentences.


Hickenlooper essentially saved the courts some time and trouble by making three such people eligible for parole and moving the parole eligibility dates forward for nine others.


Colorado Clemency Recipients


  • Nathan Ybanez, for example, was sentenced to life without parole and is now eligible for parole in December 2020. He was convicted of killing his mother in 1999 when he was 16 years old.


  • Dwight Anderson was sentenced in 1995 to life without parole for first-degree murder. He will now be eligible for parole after serving 40 years.


  • Terrance Wilder was a juvenile when he was sentenced to life without parole for first-degree murder in 1999. He will now be eligible for parole in 40 years.


  • Bruce C. Mingo, who was not parole-eligible after his 1999 sentence for first-degree murder, is now eligible for parole in December 2023.


  • John P. Sherman, who was sentenced in 1987 for first-degree murder, had his parole eligibility date moved up six years, from 2027 to 2021.


  • Daniel L. Coleman, also sentenced for first-degree murder in 1987, had his parole eligibility date moved up from 2026 to 2022.


Colorado District Attorney George Brauchler's Response


Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler, whose office prosecuted Wilder and Ybanez when they were juveniles, expressed disappointment that Hickenlooper bypassed the resentencing process.


"It feels like a big lump of coal just got dropped in the Christmas stocking this year," Brauchler said.


Gov. Hickenlooper's Rationale for Granting Clemency


While it may be a prosecutor's job to focus on punishment and the past, as a governor, Hickenlooper must look toward the future, where even prisoners have value as human beings and are still a part of society.


"We have selected only those where the individual has a proven track record of rehabilitation," Hickenlooper said in a news release at the time. "Those granted clemency today have shown they deserve a second chance and have the support system to help them succeed."


Colorado Clemency Lawyers


Making an effective plea for clemency can be a tricky process. If you or a loved one has a conviction and is seeking relief, contact the Law Offices of Brandon Sample. Our firm can assist you with strategizing your Colorado clemency petition, handle all research and drafting, and submit the petition on your behalf.

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About Brandon Sample

Brandon Sample is an attorney, author, and criminal justice reform activist. Brandon’s law practice is focused on federal criminal defense, federal appeals, federal post-conviction relief, federal civil rights litigation, federal administrative law, and the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

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