President Donald Trump pardoned former prisoner and Hope for Prisoners founder Jon Ponder during Tuesday night’s portion of the Republican National Convention (RNC) in an emotional ceremony from the White House.
“So now I’d like to invite Jon’s wife, Jamie, to join us as I grant John a full pardon,” Trump said as he prepared to sign the pardon. “So I don’t know if you know that, Jamie. Come on over here. You have done incredible work.”
“Since being released from prison on a bank robbery conviction, Ponder has worked to help other former prisoners in the Las Vegas area to successfully reintegrate into American society,” Trump explained. (RELATED: Trump Pardons Navy Sailor Who Did “Nothing” Compared To Hillary)
“Two years ago I was honored to tell Jon Ponder’s story in the Rose Garden on the National Day of Prayer. Today I’m thrilled to welcome him back to the White House. Jon’s life is a beautiful testament to the power of redemption.”
The president related how Ponder became an evangelical Christian while in prison. “Jon dedicated his life to Christ. He spent the rest of his time in prison studying the Bible.”
“In the last 10 years since Jon was released, he’s created one of the most successful reentry programs, Hope for Prisoners, in Las Vegas. I was glad to speak their earlier this year,” Trump continued.
“Jon, we honor your devotion to showing returning citizens that they are not forgotten. We believe that each person is made by God for a purpose. I will continue to give all Americans including former inmates the best chance to build a new life and achieve their own American Dream.”
“My hope for America is that fromerly incarcerated people will be afforded the opportunity to take advantage of the fact that we live in a nation of second chances. My hope for America is that law enforcement and people in the communities across our country can come together and realize that, as Americans, we have more in common then we have differences,” Ponder said in response.
“All of Las Vegas and all of Nevada, and every place in this country is very proud of the job you’ve done bringing people back in. I was supposed to be there for five minutes and I stayed for an hour because it was so impressive to me. Congratulations to both of you, ” Trump said. (RELATED: Trump Tells Hannity He’d Consider Pardoning All Those Convicted In The Mueller Investigation)
Alice Marie Johnson, who served time in prison for a nonviolent drug offense and who had her sentence commuted by the president, will also be a featured speaker at the RNC.
Trump’s leadership on prison reform has earned him praise from people who are usually his staunchest critics. CNN contributor Van Jones has said the president’s work on the issue deserves applause from Democrats.