Austin | Dallas | Houston
Ridiculous Rick

Rick Perry makes mockery of governor's pardon with meaningless cases

Claire St. Amant headshot
Rick Perry at mic 2013
Gov. Rick Perry would rather clear the names of teenage coin machine thieves than wrongly executed men. Office of the Governor of Texas/Facebook

Observing an annual holiday tradition, Texas Gov. Rick Perry granted clemency to 12 people on December 19. And following a previous pattern, the majority of pardons were for crimes so insignificant, you have to wonder why he'd bother.

The cases range from petty theft to simple assault. For example, 45-year-old Robert Leos was pardoned for a burglary of a coin-operated machine he committed in 1987 when he was 18 years old.

 Gov. Perry has never pardoned a death penalty case, though Texas has no shortage of controversial ones.

Georgeanne Battle, now 39, was pardoned for unlawfully carrying a weapon in 1993 when she was 19. She was sentenced to four days in jail and paid a $100 fine.

Though women make up a small fraction of overall offenders, nine of Perry's 12 pardons this year were of female. Perry has granted more than 125 full pardons since taking office, and none of them have been for murder. Most of the crimes totally absolved include theft, burglary and drug charges. 

In 2012, Perry pardoned 14 people, many of whom had served only days in jail on minor charges. Since he's been in office, Perry has granted some form of clemency to around 200 people. Those have included men wrongly convicted of murder and rape, but never anyone on death row. Though Perry is as cocksure as ever, Texas has no shortage of controversial death penalty cases.

Notably absent from Perry's list was the name Cameron Todd Willingham, who was executed in 2004 after being convicted largely due to testimony using an arson theory that has since been debunked. The Innocence Project has twice applied for Willingham's posthumous pardon. Too bad Perry would rather clear the names of teenage coin machine thieves than wrongly executed men.

Perry's meaningless pardon list arrives the same day as the Death Penalty Information Center's year-end report, which shows Texas once again leads the nation in executions. It's true that any felony conviction makes life harder for the offender, but Perry's choice to focus on petty crimes is an affront to justice. 

Newsletters for exploring your city

Daily Digest

Austin news, views + events

Insider Offers

Curated experiences at exclusive prices

Promo Alerts

Special offers + exclusive deals

We will not share or sell your email address