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Former Kentucky Gov. Bevin upset of criticism for pardoning murderers

Posted: 4:01 PM, Dec 13, 2019
Updated: 2019-12-13 18:18:06-05
Former Kentucky Gov. Bevin upset of criticism for pardoning murderers

Multiple Kentucky politicians and lawmakers have called for an investigation into some of the pardons former Gov. Matt Bevin made in his final days as governor.

In his final acts as governor, Bevin pardoned, or commuted the sentences of, hundreds of people, including some convicted of homicide.

Bevin responded to the criticisms Friday in multiple tweets from his personal Twitter.

The response started with a tweet saying, "1/20: America is a nation that was established with an understanding and support for redemption and second chances..."

The outrage has been bipartisan in Kentucky. Not only have Kentucky Democrats called for an investigation, so has members of Bevin's Republican party.

According to a statement from Senate President Robert Stivers (R), on behalf of the Kentucky Senate Majority, officials are calling for the U.S. Attorney's Office to launch an investigation into former Gov. Matt Bevin's pardons.

Stivers released the following statement, "From what we know of former Gov. Bevin’s extreme pardons and commutations, the Senate Republican Majority condemns his actions as a travesty and perversion of justice. Our citizens, and especially the crime victims and their families, deserve better. We support the gathering of facts and call upon the U.S. Attorney’s office to launch an investigation into former Gov. Bevin’s pardons.”

One of the people pardoned was Kurt Smith , who was convicted of killing his six-week-old son Blake. Smith was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 20 years. He was also charged with rioting and accused of hitting a corrections guard over the head with a rock during the Northpoint Prison Riots in 2009.

"He might be letting one family celebrate that a son got to go home today, but I'll be mourning the loss of my son for 18 years and that will never stop," Blake's mother, Jessica Rudenis, said.

Melinda Mills told LEX 18 that it was on Facebook where she learned the man convicted in the shooting death of her brother would be released. Patrick Baker was convicted of reckless homicide and impersonating a peace officer in connection with the death of Donald Mills. Patrick Baker's brother hosted a campaign fundraiser for Bevin in the summer of 2018 where more than $20,000 was raised, according to the Courier-Journal.

The 20 tweet statement was posted over about 30 minutes. In total, it read, "America is a nation that was established with an understanding and support for redemption and second chances...The criminal justice system is intended to find the proper balance between justice for the victims and rehabilitation for the offenders...

When it is not possible to guarantee more of either being accomplished by further incarceration, it is reasonable for a person to be considered for either a commutation or a pardon...This is never an exact science...

The entire criminal justice system hinges upon the judgement of third parties...

Over the past four years, I have reviewed hundreds of applications for pardons and commutations and have read thousands of letters and supporting documents...

I have read hundreds of pages of court transcripts and witness testimony as well as documents related to appeals that were filed in a few cases...

I have spoken with many...

Not every application that was sent in was able to be fully reviewed...

Those that were not reviewed, remain in the files for consideration by future governors...

Many that were fully reviewed were not granted...Many other applications were fully reviewed and resulted in either a conditional or full pardon, or a commutation of some part of the existing sentence...

Contrary to that which has been falsely stated by many, not a single person was released who had not already been scheduled for a specific release date or who was sentenced with the eligibility to be considered for early release...

The vast majority of those who were pardoned, have actually been out of prison for years and had fully paid their debt to society...

The myriad statements and suggestions that financial or political considerations played a part in the decision making process, are both highly offensive and entirely false...

To repeat such uncorroborated rumors and lies is reprehensible...

At the end of the day, the responsibility for making pardon and commutation decisions falls on the Governor alone...

For anyone to question the motives and involvement of anyone else in the administration is highly inappropriate and irresponsible...

I personally spent hundreds of hours reading every application and file of those who received a pardon...

I personally wrote every word of justification for each pardon granted and each sentence commuted...

Each case had its own set of facts, evidence, lack of evidence, supporting documents, reasons and unique details, most of which the arm-chair critics are not aware of...Am I perfect? No...Never have been...But I did my very best, over many hours, days, weeks and years, to reach fair and just decisions...

Not one person receiving a pardon would I not welcome as a co-worker, neighbor, or to sit beside me or any member of my family in a church pew or at a public event...

No community is either more or less safe now, than it was before the pardons and commutations given over the past four years...

Good arguments could, in fact, be made to the contrary, based on what the earliest recipients of such actions have done with their lives in recent months and years...

We are blessed to be Americans, living in a land that offers the possibility of a second chance for those who have ruined their first one..."