State Politics

Idaho governor’s 3rd-ever pardon is a drug convict devoting his life to mental health

Gov. Butch Otter delivering his 2017 State of the State address at the Idaho Capitol in Boise.
Gov. Butch Otter delivering his 2017 State of the State address at the Idaho Capitol in Boise. Idaho Statesman file

Idaho Gov. Butch Otter has granted his third pardon since becoming governor in 2007.

All three of the pardons were for convicted drug offenders who later turned their lives around.

Otter announced on Thursday he had pardoned Larry Jasper, 49. Jasper’s methamphetamine and heroin use landed him in prison more than a decade before. Now, it will help inform Jasper’s new career aiding those struggling with substance abuse and behavioral health problems.

“My dedication to the treatment of persons suffering from addictions actually helps contribute to my sobriety, giving back by helping others,” Jasper wrote in his application to the Idaho Commission of Pardons and Parole, as quoted in a news release from Otter’s office. “I find that the chemical dependency population is very transparent to me, and I have had the opportunity to both treat and conduct research to enhance knowledge and improve the treatment of addiction.”

Court records show Jasper was sentenced in 2005 in Payette County to serve up to four years in prison for felony drug possession, following a handful of other charges in that county. At the time of his September 2008 parole, he had only a high school education.

Today, Jasper lives in Newberg, Oregon. He has a doctorate in clinical psychology, earned in May 2016 from George Fox University.

“My end goal, my hope is to become a licensed psychologist in the state of Oregon. The probability of me attaining my license with a felony record is very low,” Jasper wrote. “I am seeking a pardon in order to achieve my goal of becoming a licensed professional and to permanently break the destructive cycle of my past.”

The commission recommended Jasper for a pardon. Otter studied his case carefully before deciding in February to grant the pardon, according to the news release.

“Mr. Jasper is an example of why a pardon process exists in Idaho,” Sandy Jones, the commission’s executive director, said in the release. “He demonstrates how rehabilitation can and should work. He has worked hard to change his life through recovery and education, and the commissioners are pleased to support his pardon.”

Otter’s two previous pardons came in May 2013. Robert Thornton had been convicted in 1992 of selling cocaine to undercover narcotics detectives in Ada County. Eric Hinckley was charged 10 years later with selling methamphetamine to a confidential informant in Idaho Falls.

Neither of those men had been arrested before their offenses. Both did time in prison, underwent substance abuse treatment and counseling, and completed their parole.

At the time he pardoned them, Otter said both men had become productive members of society, pursuing careers and maintaining a clean track record.

A pardon won’t erase Jasper’s conviction from his record. But the acknowledgement of his significant rehabilitation should open new career options for him, according to the governor’s office.

The pardons and parole commission can grant pardons for lesser crimes. Pardons for more serious offenses, like drug dealing, murder and rape, require the governor’s approval.

Cynthia Sewell: 208-377-6428, @CynthiaSewell