Bill Ritter has issued 20 pardons as a prelude to his departure from office next month, including one to Leon Kelly, a former drug dealer convicted of aggravated robbery in 1979. Kelly, now a reverend and anti-gang activist, tells Westword he never emphasized that he wanted a pardon but is nonetheless happy to pass a milestone. “Hopefully it sets a precedent for others who have a background and come from my neighborhood who want to be able to contribute to it instead of tearing it down,” he says.
In a statement listing all the pardons, Ritter writes, “The individuals…have demonstrated great remorse, an effort at redeeming themselves from prior criminal acts, and, in some cases, significant involvement in their community.” The list includes forgers, burglars, drug dealers, cop-beaters, trespassers, and domestic assaulters, notes The Colorado Independent. In his first three years as governor, Ritter, who was Denver’s district attorney prior to being elected, issued just a handful of pardons, but he now claims more than his predecessor, Bill Owens, a Republican who granted 13, reports KUNC radio.