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The Governor completed an extensive review of Mr. Sirhan's case and determined that he currently poses an unreasonable threat to public safety. The Governor reached his decision based on several factors, including Mr. Sirhan's refusal to accept responsibility for his crime, lack of insight and accountability required to support his safe release, failure to disclaim violence committed in his name, and failure to mitigate his risk factors.
"Mr. Sirhan's assassination of Senator Kennedy is among the most notorious crimes in American history," wrote Governor Newsom in his decision. "After decades in prison, he has failed to address the deficiencies that led him to assassinate Senator Kennedy. Mr. Sirhan lacks the insight that would prevent him from making the same types of dangerous decisions he made in the past."
A copy of the Governor's parole reversal decision can be found here.
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The Governor regards clemency as an important part of the criminal justice system that can incentivize accountability and rehabilitation, increase public safety by removing counterproductive barriers to successful reentry, correct unjust results in the legal system and address the health needs of incarcerated people with high medical risks.
The California Constitution gives the Governor the authority to grant executive clemency in the form of a pardon, commutation or reprieve. These clemency grants recognize the applicants' acceptance of responsibility for their conduct and their subsequent efforts in self-development. Clemency does not forgive or minimize the harm caused.
A pardon may remove counterproductive barriers to employment and public service, restore civic rights and responsibilities and prevent unjust collateral consequences of conviction, such as deportation and permanent family separation. A pardon does not expunge or erase a conviction. A commutation modifies a sentence, making an incarcerated person eligible for an earlier release or allowing them to go before the Board of Parole Hearings for a hearing at which Parole Commissioners determine whether the individual is suitable for release. A reprieve allows people classified by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation as high medical risk to serve their sentences in appropriate alternative placements in the community consistent with public health and public safety.
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The Governor weighs numerous factors in his review of clemency applications, including an applicant's self-development and conduct since the offense, whether the grant is consistent with public safety and in the interest of justice, and the impact of a grant on the community, including crime victims and survivors.
While in office, Governor Newsom has granted a total of 112 pardons, 109 commutations and 34 reprieves.
The Governor's Office encourages victims, survivors and witnesses to register with CDCR's Office of Victims and Survivors Rights and Services to receive information about an incarcerated person's status. For general information about victim services, to learn about victim-offender dialogues, or to register or update a registration confidentially, please visit www.cdcr.ca.gov/Victim_Services/ or call 1-877-256-6877 (toll free).
Copies of the gubernatorial clemency certificates announced today can be found here.
Additional information on executive clemency can be found here.
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