Founder of Watts-Based Nonprofit is Among 7 People Pardoned by California Gov. Gavin Newsom

Susan H. Burton started an organization provides housing for women when they leave prison

Gov. Gavin Newsom granted pardons to seven people, including a former inmate from East Los Angeles who now helps other women transition from prison to society.

Raised in housing projects in East Los Angeles, Susan H. Burton's 5-year-old son was accidentally hit and killed by an off-duty LAPD officer in 1982. She turned to crack cocaine and was in and out of prison until joined a sobriety program in Santa Monica, according to The Los Angeles Times

She then started working to help other women who had traveled the same path founding Watts-based A New Way of Life Reentry Project. The organization provides housing for women when they leave prison and helps them find work and recover from drug addiction.

"By granting these pardons to people who are transforming their lives, the governor is seeking to remove barriers to employment and public service, restore civic rights and responsibilities and prevent unjust collateral consequences of conviction," Newsom's office said in a statement Wednesday night.

Burton also has been an advocate against lengthy prison sentences and called for restoring ex-felons' civil rights, including the right to vote. In 2017, she authoried "Becoming Ms. Burton: From Prison to Recovery to Leading the Fight for Incarcerated Women."

The pardon announcement came after a key court decision Tuesday, when a majority of the seven-justice California Supreme Court decided that Burton was eligible for a the pardon. A majority of the court must review all clemency applications for people who have more than one felony.

The governor is authorized to grant clemency under the California Constitution. A pardon does not minimize past conduct, nor does it expunge or erase the conviction, Newsom's office said in a statement.

Other Pardons Granted by Gov. Newsom

Derrick Dickerson: Convicted in January 1989 in Kern County for conspiracy to possess a controlled substance for sale and possession of a controlled substance for sale. He was released in December 1991, having completed his sentence.

Fernando Garcia: Convicted in June 1990 in Imperial County for driving under the influence of drugs/alcohol causing bodily injury. Garcia served three years on probation and was released in June 1993.

Laurie Gardner: Convicted in September 2004 in San Luis Obispo County for possession of a controlled substance for sale. She served four years on probation and was discharged in September 2008, having competed her sentence.

David Goodman: Convicted in February 1988 in Los Angeles County for possession of a controlled substance. He served three years on probation and was discharged in February 1991, having competed her sentence.

Richard Gower: Convicted in February 1993 in Contra Costa County for transportation/sale of a controlled substance. He served two years of probation. Gower was discharged in February 1995 after completing his sentence.

Quoc Nguyen: Convicted in Santa Clara County of assault with a deadly weapon not a firearm, with a street gang enhancement. Her served a year and six month in prison and two years and eleven months on parole. He was discharged in February 2012 after completing his sentence.

NBCLA's Jonathan Lloyd contributed to this report.

Copyright CNS - City News Service
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