Criminal justice reform advocate applies for pardon

Criminal justice reform advocate applies for pardon

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) – Governor Matt Bevin made headlines when he left office and granted pardons to hundreds of former offenders.

Some of them were praised, some were criticized, and some are being investigated by the FBI.

Now the state’s new governor, Andy Beshear, has taken office and has the power to issue pardons himself.

Criminal justice reform advocate Savvy Shabazz wants to ask him for a second chance.

Thursday, Shabazz walked through the halls of the capitol to submit his pardon application. It was a simple walk, but one Shabazz hopes may change his life.

He told WAVE 3 News he hasn't been able to vote since 2002 when he was convicted of a nonviolent drug offense.

Since then, he's become a voice in the Kentucky movement to restore voting rights to non-violent felons who have served their sentence.

Gov. Beshear granted that to around 140,000 people in his first week in office.

While Shabazz is no longer in jail, he is still serving his sentence on active parole. So, in addition to not being able to vote, he said he can’t travel or do certain things with his job at the Bail Project.

That’s why he said he is applying for a pardon.

"The time has come now, where Savvy is ready to restore those rights," he said. "He's ready to get back to work in the city of Louisville, to continue to fight and help others like himself."

He said his drug offense landed him a 28-year sentence, and he believes over-sentencing is a big problem in the criminal justice system.

If Shabazz doesn’t get a pardon, he wouldn’t be able to vote for more than five years.

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