81°F
weather icon Clear

Nevada board pardons Hope for Prisoners founder

Jon Ponder, an ex-convict who now spends his days helping former inmates transition back into civilian life, was granted clemency by the state Pardons Board on Wednesday for past battery convictions.

The pardon, which was approved unanimously by the board members present, clears Ponder’s record of the domestic battery crimes he was convicted of in the 1990s and early 2000s.

Ponder could not hold back the tears as he listened to his brother Darryl, who was the victim of one of the battery convictions, testify about how Ponder had turned his life around and “brought the family together.”

“It was so surreal,” Ponder said after the hearing.

The state pardon comes on the heels of President Donald Trump last month teasing a “full pardon” for Ponder, which would clear his record of separate federal crimes that sent Ponder to prison.

Ponder’s attorney, Kristina Wildeveld, said the Nevada pardon was the first step in restoring his full rights, noting that he still has the federal robbery conviction as well as crimes dating back to his time in New York and that they are actively working toward resolving those convictions.

Growing up in New York, Ponder fell into gangs and found himself arrested at the age of 16 for armed robbery. He spent the next 20 years in and out of custody for crimes ranging from assault to other robberies. The last was in 2004, when he was arrested after a drug-and-alcohol-fueled armed bank robbery that sent him to federal prison for the last time.

It was during that federal prison sentence that Ponder found faith, and a purpose.

A year and a half after being released, Ponder founded Hope for Prisoners in 2009. The nonprofit organization partners with law enforcement agencies across the state, including the Metropolitan Police Department and the Nevada Department of Corrections, and has helped more than 2,000 former Nevada inmates reenter civilian life.

Wildeveld asked the board, which is made up of Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak, Attorney General Aaron Ford and the seven Supreme Court justices, for a full, unconditional pardon, in large part because Ponder wants to do normal parent activities with his daughters. Ford and Chief Justice Kristina Pickering were absent for the vote.

“Because of his status as an ex-felon, he can’t go into his daughters’ schools. He cannot accompany his daughters on his daughters’ school field trips. He cannot be fully involved in his children’s lives,” Wildeveld said.

She also said that because of his status, Ponder’s wife can’t own a firearm. Wildeveld noted that none of Ponder’s convictions, including the bank robberies, involved a gun.

Sisolak stood staunchly against restoring Ponder’s right to bear arms, however. But because of the rules of the board, that meant a pardon without those rights restored was the only option the board could vote on.

Justice Lidia Stiglich said she disagreed with the governor’s position and wanted to vote against it, because she believed that Ponder should have his rights restored unconditionally, but she said she would vote yes because she didn’t want there to be any disagreement about Ponder deserving the pardon.

“That was what you did. But who you are is who you are today,” Stiglich said. “And I think you’ve distinguished yourself both in your own rehabilitation and your service to your community in trying to make that right.”

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
THE LATEST
FEMA vaccination clinic shifts to Beatty

Hundreds of Nye County residents braved warm temperatures in order to receive their COVID-19 vaccinations in Pahrump on Thursday.

WGU unveils Essential Workers Scholarship

Western Governors University Nevada announced Wednesday a new scholarship program for essential workers seeking degrees in high-demand career fields including business, teaching, information technology and health professions, such as nursing.

Hospice symposium to focus on equity in end-of-life care

Nathan Adelson Hospice will host its 17th annual Multicultural Symposium virtually beginning at 1 p.m. April 14 with a variety of topics addressing equity in end-of-life care.

State’s tax amnesty period ends May 1 for businesses

There is less than one month left of Nevada’s Tax Amnesty program that began Feb. 1. Business entities that have unpaid tax debt can file/pay their taxes online or download the missing tax returns that are available on the Department of Taxation’s website https://tax.nv.gov/

Fleeing man arrested at gunpoint in Pahrump

One man was arrested and taken into custody following a disturbance at Bank of America just after 9 a.m. on Tuesday, April 6.

Nye County votes to fully reopen, sidestep mask mandate

On Tuesday, April 6, the Nye County Commission, after several hours of public comment and debate, voted 5-0 to approve fully reopening Nye County and its businesses, and to essentially do away with the mask mandate.

Letters to the Editor

Good, bad, and ugly are present in today’s society

Overnight oatmeal is power packed for pennies

When it comes to cheap eats it doesn’t get more frugal and fabulous than oatmeal. It’s a whole grain, packed with fiber and nutrients, the taste is compatible with endless variations, and costs mere pennies per serving. Are you sold yet? How about this: you can literally make it while your sleep. Does that appeal to your inner multi-tasker? Yup. Mine, too.

Drive-thru Senior Fair set at Inspirations in Pahrump

Pahrump Valley seniors should mark their calendars for Saturday, April 17 when they will have a chance to head out to the Drive-Thru Senior Fair at Inspirations Senior Living Center, where there will be a plethora of organizations gathered for an event intended to help educate the older population about the area’s many valuable resources.

Pahrump’s Community Easter Curbside hailed as huge hit

At 10 a.m. on a bright and sunny Saturday morning, a line of vehicles started forming at the NyE Communities Coalition and suddenly it was go-time for the dozens of volunteers on hand for this year’s Community Easter Curbside Pick-up Event.