Joe Biden on Friday announced six full pardons, most for minor drug offenses but including a pardon for an 80-year-old woman from Columbus, Ohio, who killed her abusive husband when she was 33.
In a statement, a White House official said the president was granting pardons to “individuals who have served their sentences and have demonstrated a commitment to improving their communities and the lives of those around them.
“These include individuals who honorably served in the US military, volunteer in their communities, and survived domestic abuse.”
As described by the White House, Beverly Ann Ibn-Tamas, now 80, was convicted in 1977 “of murder in the second degree while armed for killing her husband.
“Ms Ibn-Tamas, 33 at the time of the incident, was pregnant and testified that before and during her pregnancy her husband beat her, verbally abused her and threatened her. According to her testimony, her husband had physically assaulted her and threatened her in the moments before she shot him.
“During her trial, the court refused to allow expert testimony regarding battered woman syndrome, a psychological condition and pattern of behavior that develops in victims of domestic violence.”
Ibn-Tamas was sentenced to one to five years in jail. Her appeal, the White House said, “marked one of the first significant steps toward judicial recognition of battered woman syndrome, and her case has been the subject of numerous academic studies”.
Ibn-Tamas became director of nursing for an Ohio-based healthcare business, the White House said, and continues to work there as a case manager. The White House noted that as a single mother, Ibn-Tamas raised two children, one of whom, her daughter, is now an attorney.
The other recipients of full pardons included Gary Parks Davis, 66 and from Yuma, Arizona, who was jailed over a cocaine deal when he was 22 then became a pillar of his local community, and Edward Lincoln De Coito III, from Dublin, California, now 50, a pilot and army veteran convicted of marijuana trafficking at 23.
Vicente Ray Flores of Winters, California, now 37, was convicted at 19 for using ecstasy and alcohol while in the army. Charles Byrnes Jackson, 77 and from Swansea, South Carolina, was convicted when 18 of possession and sale of distilled spirits without tax stamps. John Dix Nock III, from St Augustine, Florida, now 72, pleaded guilty 20 years ago to renting out a place where marijuana was grown.
The White House official said the pardons followed “the categorical pardon of thousands of individuals convicted of simple marijuana possession … announced earlier this year, as well as the pardons of three individuals in April”.
The April pardons concerned two people convicted of drugs offences and a former Secret Service agent who was convicted of attempting to sell government information, a charge he denied.
Advocacy groups welcomed the thousands of pardons announced in October, for marijuana possession. Kassandra Frederique, the executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, told the Guardian then her organisation was “thrilled”, though the move was “incredibly long overdue”.
On Friday, the White House official said Biden “believes America is a nation of second chances, and that offering meaningful opportunities for redemption and rehabilitation empowers those who have been incarcerated to become productive, law-abiding members of society.
“The president remains committed to providing second chances to individuals who have demonstrated their rehabilitation – something that elected officials on both sides of the aisle, faith leaders, civil rights advocates and law enforcement leaders agree our criminal justice system should offer.”