The Democratic governor pardoned 128 convicted criminals in 2012, six times the number he granted the previous year, according to a report to the Legislature today by Brown.
In 2011, Brown issued 21 pardons. Even that number was more than any governor had granted for years. Brown's predecessor, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, commuted 10 sentences during his tenure and pardoned just 16 people. Schwarzenegger's predecessor, Gray Davis, granted no pardons.
Most of the people Brown pardoned in 2012 were convicted of drug or property crimes and discharged from prison or parole many years ago. Most of the pardons - 79 - were announced on Christmas Eve.
Brown also granted one commutation, which was widely reported when it was announced in April. That month, Brown commuted the prison sentence of a woman convicted of shaking her baby grandson to death in Los Angeles County in 1997, in a case an appeals court deemed a likely miscarriage of justice.
A pardon is often symbolically significant to its recipient, and it can help in job applications. It also allows an ex-felon to be employed as a parole or probation officer and, in most cases, to own a gun.
PHOTO CREDIT: Gov. Jerry Brown gives his State of the State speech at the state Capitol in Sacramento, California on Thursday, January 24, 2013. Hector Amezcua / Sacramento Bee