Christmas came early for 151 people this year. Gov. Jerry Brown today announced that he has pardoned 132 people and commuted sentences for 19 others.
One of them is Candace Lee Fox, who's serving life in prison without parole despite a bungled plea deal that could have freed her decades ago.
In 1984, Fox and two friends hatched a plan to rob and kill a man who one of them knew. If Fox testified against a co-defendant, prosecutors promised her parole in 7 1/2 years, as long as she stayed clean in prison.
After testifying for the prosecution, Fox was sentenced.
But when she got to prison, she was told by the state corrections department that she would not be eligible for parole for 10 years and would be subject to lifelong parole supervision, according to the Los Angels Times.
Fox, now 57, has spent 33 years behind bars for the crime. A federal appeals panel upheld her murder sentence last year but two of the judges said the state should consider clemency.
All 19 commutations were granted to current inmates who petitioned to have their sentence reduced. Most of them will now make their case to the Board of Parole Hearings, which decides if inmates are ready to be released from prison.
All 132 pardons were granted to people who had completed their sentences. Most of them were convicted of drug-related offenses or other non-violent crimes.
Anyone who has been convicted of a crime in California can apply to the Governor for a pardon. They are only granted to people who have lived crime-free for a decade, completed their sentence and received a court-issued certificate of rehabilitation.
This round of pardons includes two Northern California Cambodian men who were about to be deported for committing crimes while in the U.S., reports the Sacramento Bee.
Rottanak Kong of Davis was convicted on felony joyriding in 2003 in Stanislaus County at age 25 and sentenced to a year in jail.
Mony Neth of Modesto was convicted on a felony weapons charge with a gang enhancement and a misdemeanor charge of receiving stolen property in 1995 in Stanislaus County.
Both men came to the United States as children after their families fled the Khmer Rouge regime. Neither has engaged in criminal activity since being released from prison. They were scheduled to be deported on December 18
Gov. Brown also pardoned Kimberly Joyce Carter, who was homeless and spent time in prison for prostitution in San Bernardino, before founding the nonprofit organization Time for Change, which helps women break the cycle of homelessness.