Donald Trump pardoned New Orleans criminal justice advocate Syrita Steib-Martin as one of his last acts in office Wednesday.
The pardon, according to the White House, relieves Steib-Martin of paying nearly $2 million in restitution for a crime she was convicted of when she was 19.
She was one of 143 people whom Trump pardoned or commuted their sentences. New Orleans rapper Lil Wayne also was pardoned.
Wayne, 38, whose real name is Dwayne Michael Carter Jr., was scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 28 after pleading guilty to a federal charge of being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm. He faced up to 10 years behind bars.
The shrewdest political maneuver of the 2020 election cycle may have been made by Lil Wayne.
Who is Syrita Steib-Martin?
Steib-Martin is the executive director and co-founder of Operation Restoration, which helps formerly incarcerated women with education, clothing, healthcare, employment and more. The organization’s website said Steib-Martin created the program to help others in her situation.
In 1999, when she was 19, she was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison, 20 years in state prison and ordered to pay $1.9 million in restitution for her role in stealing cars and burning down an auto dealership in Tyler, Texas, according to a 2019 story on Essence.com. She was released in 2009 after serving nine years and two months of that sentence.
While in federal prison, Steib-Martin began taking community college courses. She felt education was the key to her overcoming anger issues and putting her life back in order.
But when she applied to the University of New Orleans, she was denied admission; she believes she was spurned because of her criminal history. Two years later, she reapplied, unchecked the box in which she disclosed a criminal history, and got in.
She later did the research that helped Democratic state Reps. Vincent Pierre, of Lafayette, and Ted James, of Baton Rouge, craft legislation that bans public colleges and universities from asking most applicants about their criminal history. The “ban the box” bill passed in 2017.
The names of prominent Trump allies stood out on the list.
The White House, in a press release, said Steib-Martin’s pardon was supported by former New Orleans Saint Ben Watson, Judge Sandra Jenkins of Louisiana’s Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal, and Sister Marjorie Hebert, the president and CEO of Catholic Charities for the Archdiocese of New Orleans.
The White House cited Steib-Martin’s advocacy for criminal justice reform in its explanation of the pardon.
“With today’s pardon, Ms. Steib-Martin is relieved of the crushing restitution she incurred at such a young age,” the White House statement said.
See the full list of pardons and commuted sentences.
Staff reporters Mark Ballard and Keith Spera contributed to this story.
Let’s block ads! (Why?)