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Haslam grants executive clemency to Sullivan Countian

Hank Hayes • Jul 27, 2018 at 8:00 AM

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam granted executive clemency to four Tennesseans on Thursday, including a man from Sullivan County.

According to a news release, Steven Lee Kennedy received a pardon for his 1979 conviction of aiding and abetting the fraudulent use of a credit card in Sullivan County. Kennedy joined the United States Navy in 1981.

“He was ultimately commissioned as an officer, received numerous decorations and distinctions, and served overseas in the Beirut, Kosovo, Operation Desert Storm, Operation Desert Shield and Afghanistan conflicts before being honorably discharged in 2008,” the release said. “Since his discharge from the Navy, Kennedy has served in civilian roles for the United States Army and has worked for two private companies. Several military colleagues submitted letters attesting to Kennedy’s character, and the Board of Parole unanimously recommended granting him a pardon.”

Executive clemency is an act of mercy or leniency by the governor after a criminal conviction, the release noted. A commutation is a reduction of the length or type of sentence imposed for a conviction, while a pardon is a statement of forgiveness that may assist with restoration of rights or expungement of a criminal record by a judge or overcoming the collateral consequences of a conviction with respect to obtaining housing and employment.

“The governor continues to review and consider additional clemency requests,” the release added.

The other three given executive clemency were: Bledsoe County’s Michelle Lea Martin, whose sentence of 25 years of incarceration was commuted to supervised parole, effective December 20, 2018, and continuing until December 31, 2020, to allow for transition-related services; Ralph Randall Reagan, who received a pardon for his 1980 and 1982 convictions for burglary in Cumberland County and his 1984 conviction for escape in Knox County; and Robert James Sheard Jr., who received a pardon for his 1984 conviction of misdemeanor assault and battery in Shelby County.

“These individuals have distinguished themselves in both their rehabilitation and their individual contributions to the community,” Haslam said. “After thoughtfully considering the circumstances of each of their cases, I believe exercising the executive clemency power will help further these individuals’ positive influence on their communities and the lives of their fellow Tennesseans.”

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