Reflecting on his legacy, Gov. Bobby Jindal optimistic about Louisiana's future, no regrets about 'rocking the boat' _lowres

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- Gov. Bobby Jindal talks about his tenure as Governor, as his two terms in office wind down.

Update, 7 p.m. Wednesday

As he prepares to leave office next week, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal commuted the sentence of a man who has worked as his personal butler at the Governor’s Mansion and granted pardons to 20 other convicted felons no longer behind bars.

Harrison Cage, who has cared for Jindal’s three children at the Governor’s Mansion for the past eight years, was convicted in 1993 of a second-degree murder in a fatal stabbing two years earlier. He had recently failed to persuade a state district judge in Ascension Parish to reduce his mandatory life sentence.

Cage’s sister, Burnniette Woodfolk, said Cage called her Wednesday to let her know Jindal had granted his request for clemency, but he didn’t say when he would be released from the Louisiana State Police Barracks, where he is held.

“I’m very happy. Very happy,” said Woodfolk, 61, who lives in Baton Rouge.

Cage was convicted of fatally stabbing Woodfolk’s 19-year-old son, Tyrone Clark, but she testified on behalf of his plea for reduced sentence in May.

She said she had forgiven her brother, and loves him as she loves her son who he killed.

“I love them both. I love both of them,” she said.

The latest round of executive clemency actions brings Jindal’s total to 83 over his eight years in office -- much fewer than his predecessors in the Governor’s Office. Many of the pardons Jindal has granted have been for people found guilty of drug crimes.

Cage was the only person on Jindal’s list Wednesday still in state custody when the governor granted clemency.

Cage previously served 13 years in the David Wade Correctional Center in Homer.

Multiple people, including the coordinator of the Governor’s Mansion and the David Wade warden, had testified during Cage’s May hearing that they believed he posed no threat to if released. Woodfolk also said she felt confident Cage would be able to get a job and return to society.

Jindal’s office wouldn’t comment on individual cases on Wednesday, but released a general statement on his approach to clemency.

“The safety of Louisiana families and communities is our number one priority when reviewing requests for clemency,” Jindal said in the statement. “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. Over the past eight years, we have been cautious about granting pardons and have not taken this responsibility lightly.”

Jindal had signaled in a recent interview with The Advocate that he was reviewing possible pardons, commutations and other clemency actions ahead of the Jan. 11 end to his second term.

Jindal, a Republican who recently ended a campaign for president, has sparingly used his executive clemency powers in office. He approved no petitions in 2015 or 2008.

His office wouldn’t comment on individual cases Wednesday, including Cage’s, but he released a general statement addressing his approach to clemency.

“The safety of Louisiana families and communities is our number one priority when reviewing requests for clemency,” Jindal said in the statement. “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. Over the past eight years, we have been cautious about granting pardons and have not taken this responsibility lightly.”

The bulk of people who received pardons from Jindal this week were convicted on drug crimes, including distribution of marijuana and distribution of cocaine. Others had been found guilty of crimes like aggravated battery, simple burglary and possession of stolen property.

Winfred Amos was pardoned for a 20-year-old conviction on a count of unauthorized use of a motor vehicle. He received probation in the mid-1990s.

“I went through some things when I was younger in life. For me I guess it could be an inspiration for some of the clients that I help,” Amos told The Advocate on Wednesday after the pardon announcement.

Amos now works as a counselor in Lafayette. He specializes in substance abuse and helps people in trouble with the law through faith-based clinics.

But one of his main reasons for seeking a pardon was to complete his doctorate. He said having a conviction on his record limited his options.

“The actual pardon is the thing that opens the doors up for you,” Amos said.

Among Jindal’s predecessors, former Gov. Kathleen Blanco, a Democrat, approved clemency for 285 prisoners during her one term in office, and former Gov. Mike Foster, a Republican, granted clemency to 455 over the course of his two terms.

A pardon request asks that a criminal record be expunged from the public record.

The Louisiana governor receives recommendations from the Pardon Board that he appoints. The final decision is left to the governor.

Those recommendations can include pardons to allow the restoration of hunting rights or professional certifications, as well as actions to shorten prison sentences and expedite parole eligibility.

According to data from the governor’s office, Jindal has received 738 recommendations for clemency from the Parole Board over the past eight years. He granted 20 requests in 2009, 12 in 2011, 10 in 2013 and eight in 2014.

Governors across the country have been known to use their executive clemency privileges as their terms come to an end to release prisoners, commute death sentences or expunge criminal records.

Former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour faced criticism in 2012 when -- in his final day in office -- he granted pardons or early releases to nearly 200 prisoners. Among them were some people who had been convicted of murder, manslaughter or homicide.

The Clemency Report, a website that advocates for shortened prison sentences, had identified seven cases in Louisiana that it claims are among the “most deserving” of executive action -- all of them life or otherwise lengthy sentences for marijuana offenses. None of them appeared on Jindal’s list released Wednesday.

Louisiana’s per capita prison population remains the highest in the world.

Follow Elizabeth Crisp on Twitter @elizabethcrisp. For more coverage of Louisiana state government and politics, follow our Politics blog at http://blogs.theadvocate.com/politicsblog.

Clemency Granted By Governor Jindal

2016 clemency action

Pardons for people no longer in state custody:

Richard Cox

Simple Burglary

William S. Elkins

Distribution of Marijuana, Distribution of Detropropoxyphene

Michael Busceme

Simple Burglary

Jeremy Myers

Possession of Stolen Property

Michael Permenter

Aggravated Battery

Winfred Amos

Unauthorized Use of a Motor Vehicle

Amber Clark Hastings aka Amber Clark Waites

Possession of Hydrocodone, Possession of Methamphetamines, Possession or Obtaining CDS by Fraud, Forgery, Conspire to Distribute Oxycodone, Conspire to Distribute Alprazolam

Brandon Folse

Possession with Intent to Distribute Cocaine, Distribution of Cocaine

Joseph R. Wilson

Distribution of Marijuana

Walter W. Beedle

Simple Burglary

Jason T. Lupo

Conspiracy to Distribute Schedule I Controlled Dangerous Substance, LSD

William S. Minor

Possession of Demerol

Suzanne P. Bailey

Attempted Distribution of Marijuana

Thomas L. Griffin

Possession with Intent to Distribute Marijuana and Manufacture/Growth of Marijuana, Possession of Cocaine, Manufacture/Growth of Marijuana, Possession with Intent to Distribute Cocaine

Warren B. Bernard

Attempted Distribution of Marijuana

Edward Broussard

Possession of Schedule I

Darrell Paulk

Possession of Cocaine

Raymond Saldivar

Accessory After the Fact Possession of Marijuana

Leonard Veal

Distribution of Cocaine

Commutation of Sentence for Prisoner in Custody:

Harrison Cage

2nd Degree Murder, Attempted Possession of Cocaine

2009

1

Jack B. Jenkins

2

Lloyd J. Miller

3

Coty C. Smith

4

Michael S. Thomas

5

Scott E. Wells

6

Robert Zaunbrecher

7

Michael Meagher

8

Dennis Sims

9

Darren Boykins

10

Floyd A. Trahan

11

James D. Johnson

12

Betty J. Wilcoxon

13

Curtis Romero

14

David K. Lachney

15

Wesley Dick

16

Chris Peter Provost

17

Jack R. Dalby

18

David Favalora

19

Georgia Hille

20

Kirby J. Bonin


2010

21

Charles Hudson

22

Simon Doyle

23

William L. Brame

24

Mark A. Gaines


2011

25

Charles Burt Ellerbee

26

Michael Pard

27

Marvin Blandino

28

Clinton Honeycutt

29

Solomon Miller

30

Sherri Lynn Creel

31

Tammy Moore

32

Christy Joi Golden

33

Yolanda Rawls

34

Latesha Jackson

35

Jeremy Chad Kelley

36

Jonny Smith


2012

37

Robert Magidson

38

Jessie Gross Jr.

39

Troy Guillot

40

Joseph Jacobs Jr.

41

Billie Hope Milligan

42

Allen R. Shultz

43

Samuel Hanna Jr.

44

Dina Perry


2013

45

Robert Hays

46

Jerry Klause

47

Carl Conley Tanner

48

Shelby Arabie

49

Wade Joseph Duplantis

50

Joseph G. Gendusa

51

Kevin Harrison

52

William Hite

53

Cherry Miles

54

Beth Neuman Boren


2014

55

Morris A Jeff a.k.a. Jeff Morris

56

Paul Edward Oden

57

Billy Martin

58

Clyde R. Eli

59

Jackie M. Kilcrease

60

Nathan Dondis

61

Oliver Lowery

62

Paulette Simon

Follow Elizabeth Crisp on Twitter @elizabethcrisp. For more coverage of Louisiana state government and politics, follow our Politics blog at http://blogs.theadvocate.com/politicsblog .