Rauner grants 2 pardons, rejects 57 other clemency requests

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Gov. Bruce Rauner has granted two pardons and rejected 57 other clemency requests |(AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast, File)

Bruce Rauner has issued his first two pardons since becoming Illinois governor, though his office offered no clarity about his criteria for deciding clemency requests or suggested how quickly he intends to chip away at a backlog of applications.

The Republican rejected 57 of 59 clemency requests, with the two pardons he did grant going to Neil Hebert and Michael Sullivan, the (Champaign) News-Gazette reported over the weekend.

Hebert, 43, was convicted of theft in Champaign County when he was 20 and served two years’ probation. His pardon, announced Friday, lets him seek to have his criminal record expunged. Sullivan was convicted of burglary in Cook County in 1979.

According to his office, Rauner inherited nearly 3,000 clemency petitions from the two previous Democratic administrations when he took over the state’s top public position nearly three months ago,.

His immediate predecessor, Democrat Pat Quinn, himself inherited about 2,500 petitions from his predecessor Rod Blagojevich, also a Democrat. Quinn reviewed more than 4,900 petitions, granted around 1,800 and denied some 3,130, according to the News-Gazette.

Then-Gov. Quinn granted a series of clemency petitions just before leaving office. And prisoner advocates have anxiously awaited some indication about whether Rauner might take a tougher line on clemency requests.

A Friday statement from Rauner’s office announcing the pardon for Hebert and Sullivan offered few details, including on the criteria the governor used in approving their applications and in rejecting the rest.

Asked Sunday about how the governor planned to chip away at the backlog of petitions, Rauner spokeswoman Catherine Kelly responded by e-mail that, “We will be reviewing clemencies on a regular basis, but there will not be a timetable on the process.”

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