Gov Hogan, please pardon a man for a nonviolent offense over 22 years ago.
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On April 19, 1995, after working 2 full time jobs 7 days per week in Towson Town Center as a cook, pulling more than 100 hours per week in, Steven Johnson decided to take the day off. The night before, he had hung out with other teens in his neighborhood riding around and going to clubs. This was the typical Baltimore life of partying in the mid 90s. The next morning, on his day off , he was headed to the tire shop. On his way he was pulled over by Baltimore City Police. After purchasing a car that wouldn't pass inspection he made a poor choice of putting another tag from a similar car on his car that he had purchased just 2 months before . When the police officer pulled him over he made a choice not to try and flee. He knew that if he had fled from the officer things could have gotten worse . As he was pulled over the officer cuffed him. Steve knew that he would be out that evening because a stolen tag was a misdeamor charge and a fine at best. When he was cuffed another officer opened the ash tray of the car. There, in plain sight was $460 worth of narcotics. The officer announced happily to the other officer that he had found the drugs. After the officer made the announcement aloud, Steve remembered a phone call from his neighborhood associate the night before. His neighborhood friend asked him to come back out around 1am because he had left something in his car that he didn't want to take in the night club. Steve knew that this was a bad decision to leave out at that hour in the morning in Baltimore because of the high crime rate in those hours of the day. When the narcotics officer arrived on the scene he had told Steve these piercing words. " I know this is not your stash. If It was you would have hid it better. You also had a two block jump on the officer that pulled you over and you didn't throw it out. We checked your story on your two jobs and everything affirms. Tell us, whose stash is this ?" Those words will never go away. Steve had to make decision on following a code on the streets or snitch . When he first appeared before a judge that year he was offered 1 year suspended sentence. As he looked at his attorney he whispered and asked if this would stop him from going into the Marines. His attorney stated that he was being charged with felony drug possession and that the only way out is a trial in the circuit courts. When Steve turned down the 1 year sentence he heard laughter in the court room, as if he was the craziest person in the world about to go to circuit court and fight a drug charge that looked guilty with anyone that could read the charge papers. Then that big day came. He stood before the judge months later in circuit court. There, his attorney advised him to take a plea. The plea consisted of 3 years supervised probation, which was a harsher sentence from the district courts. Again, he turned to his attorney and stated that this wasn't supposed to happen . By this time, he had completed his Maryland G.E.D. course and was now a full time student at Morgan State University studying electrical engineering, attending a tractor trailer school on weekends to earn a Class A Commercial Drivers License, and still working a full time job as a security guard. Even still, the judge had no mercy . Take the three years supervised probation or take the chance of going to trial and getting 7 years or greater . In fear and having a defeated mentality, he took the 3 years supervised probation. He was now a convicted felon.
Fast forward 22 years and Steve is still fighting to clear his name. Maryland law states that anyone convicted of felony drug distribution charges must wait 20 years from the last day of parole or probation to file for a pardon that only the governor can grant . 15 years may be considered if the need is urgent. Steve applied for his pardon in January of 2016 and as of August 2017, he has yet to have received a response.
Today , Steve stands with a strong history of volunteering with several agencies in Baltimore to do things such as feeding the homeless, coaching expectant mothers with drug addictions, coaching men with drug addictions, and recently starting his own movement called #PardonMe. Pardon Me is the initiative to stop those who have entered the criminal system from doing so over and over again . Letting them know that the revolving door to jail doesn't have to persist. He does this by providing interview tips and clothing preparation, advising them on expungement , record shielding, and pardons, all while petitioning Governor Hogan for his own pardon.
Currently, Mr. Johnson is a father of 3 children, holding physical custody of 2 ( the oldest having gotten married ) , has a 22 year truck driving history ( currently employed with the largest package handling company in the world ), and charges himself by pushing the #PardonMe movement to those who have traveled his path and encourging the younger generation to abstain from bad company .
Today , Steven Johnson needs your help. He has created a petition to Governor Hogan for him to be pardoned of his one-time arrest and charge . Having a clean record would help him stand in the gap for young people even more. Imagine a man that devotes his time to inspiring the younger generation to avoid crime, embrace education, and push to pursue their dreams and visions, telling those of the younger generation that if you give it your very best, you can accomplish and too, be pardoned for your offense just like him by volunteering and becoming a positive force to the streets of Baltimore where violence seems to never end. Your signature is needed to send a message to Governor Hogan that you will stand for the same hope and passion that Steve has carried for over 2 decades. Please, add your signature today and be part of the movement in helping those who desperately need it. Thank you in advance and may your joys and passions be fulfilled as well.
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