- Associated Press - Wednesday, January 6, 2016

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - As he nears the end of his term, Gov. Bobby Jindal has approved clemency for 21 people convicted of crimes in Louisiana, including a butler at the governor’s mansion.

Jindal’s office said Wednesday the clemency approvals include 20 pardons and one sentence cut.

Jindal’s office said that brings the number granted clemency during his two terms in office to 83. Statistics released by the governor’s office said former Gov. Kathleen Blanco granted 285 during her one term. Former Gov. Mike Foster granted 455 during his two terms.

Jindal spokesman Mike Reed confirmed that the sentence cut is for Harrison Cage, convicted in 1993 of second-degree murder for a stabbing death. Cage has been serving as a butler at the Governor’s mansion.

Reed said the governor commuted Cage’s sentence from life in prison to a 60-year sentence, which means he’s eligible for parole if the parole board agrees to grant Cage’s request.

Jindal leaves office Monday.

Records indicate all of the pardoned people, other than Cage, are no longer in custody.

State pardon board online records show that one pardon was granted in an Ouachita Parish case involving aggravated battery. The rest were for non-violent offenses. Fourteen involved various drug convictions. The remaining convictions were for simple burglary, possession of stolen property or unauthorized use of a motor vehicle.

In a statement accompanying the clemency announcement, Jindal said his administration has been cautious about granting pardons.

“We review the recommendations sent to us by the pardon board on a case-by-case basis to see how it would not only impact the individual seeking the pardon, but also victims, law enforcement officials, and the communities where these individuals are from,” Jindal said.

Keith Nordyke, a lawyer who teaches at LSU’s law school and represents defendants in pardon and parole matters - including two who were pardoned Wednesday - said the use of pardons is very important to prison administrators.

Nordyke said administrators need to be able show that inmates who’ve done the right things and changed their lives have received pardons. Otherwise, the prisoners have no hope. “Any prison administrator would tell you that hope is something useful to have in prison,” Nordyke said.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

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