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Brown issues pardons based on 'exemplary behavior'

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Governor Jerry Brown has issued pardons to 79 convicted felons who served their sentences and committed no other crimes for at least a decade.

Brown announced the pardons Monday, most for people who had been convicted of drug crimes. Others had convictions for theft, robbery, driving under the influence and other such offenses. 

"These are individuals that committed their crimes many many years ago," said Evan Westrup, a spokesperson for the governor. The individuals had "completed their sentences, have been out for over a decade, and have paid their debt to society," he said. "We shared some good news just the day before Christmas."

Brown singled out 61-year-old Thomas George Pfleger of Newport Beach for his philanthropic work.

A 79-year-old man was pardoned for a robbery he committed more than half a century ago. And a 76-year-old Arkansas prison chaplain was pardoned for drug possession and robbery in the 1960s.

A pardon does not erase a criminal record, but it can restore some rights. That could include owning firearms unless the conviction involved the use of a dangerous weapon.

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