Gov. Jeff Colyer pardons 2 Kansans with Wichita ties

(Source: Chris Rickerson)

TOPEKA, Kan. Governor Jeff Colyer granted two pardons and one commutation of a sentence as he closes out his time in office.

A Wichita man and former Wichita woman were the two people pardoned by the governor.

Chris Rickerson was convicted of felony drug possession in 2006, as well as property and drug misdemeanors in 2005 and 2006. Rickerson completed his sentences and now owns and operates Elite Staffing Solutions in Wichita. The organization focuses on giving people a second chance by helping them find jobs and avoid drugs. In 2017, his business was a finalist in the Small Business of the Year awards conducted by the Wichita Chamber of Commerce. His convictions in the District Courts of Sedgwick and Butler Counties were expunged and his pardon request was favorably recommended by the Prisoner Review Board.

Wandaleen Thomas, a native of Wichita, Kansas, currently living in Fountain, Colorado was also granted a pardon. Ms. Thomas was convicted of felony drug possession in 1992. She completed her sentence and now owns and operates WT’s Military Cuts, a barbershop that caters to military personnel and their families. She also counsels individuals to help them avoid drugs and alcohol. Her conviction in the District Court of Sedgwick County was previously expunged by the court, and her pardon request was favorably recommended by the Prisoner Review Board.

Regina Carter of Emporia, Kansas has received a commutation of sentence. She was convicted of first-offense drug possession in 2016. She is a combat veteran who is disabled from PTSD and is nearing the completion of a college degree. Carter is a first-time offender who has already served nearly three years of her sentence for an offense that often results in a lesser punishment, that could result in referral to a special veteran’s court in some jurisdictions, and as to which the statutory penalty has been reduced since her sentencing.

Carter’s 98-month sentence will be commuted to 43 months. However, her release doesn’t come without stipulations; her commutation requires 36 months of post-release supervision, drug treatment, education, and drug testing. If Ms. Carter violates any of the conditions of her release she will return to prison. As a result of the commutation, Carter can be released from prison as early as May 2019.

“Granting pardons is one of the most extraordinary powers granted by the people of Kansas to their Governor, and it is one I do not take lightly,” said Governor Jeff Colyer. “After a rigorous review process, I personally spoke with each of the individuals receiving clemency and while I am hard on crime, I believe in some cases people deserve a second chance.”

The governor denied 21 pardon applications in cases that involved multiple murders, rapes, child sex crimes, and drug crimes.

In total, Governor Colyer has denied 42 pardon applications during his time in office.