A convicted felon was brought to tears when President Donald Trump granted him a full pardon in a video that aired Tuesday during the second night of the Republican National Convention.
Jon Ponder, a born-again Christian and founder of the nonprofit group Hope for Prisoners, appeared in the broadcast alongside former FBI agent Richard Beasley, who arrested Ponder in 2004 but has since become one of his close friends.
“When I met Jon 15 years ago, he was angry, scared, frustrated and anxious about his future,” Beasley said in a video released by the White House. “On the drive to prison, I stopped at a convenience store and bought Jon a coffee and a doughnut.
“After he was sentenced, Jon sent me a necktie and a note, thanking me for treating him like a gentleman,” he added.
Jon Ponder went to jail for robbing a bank. Then he turned his life around. Now he gives hope to other prisoners and helps them successfully re-enter society.
— Team Trump (Text VOTE to 88022) (@TeamTrump) August 26, 2020
The document Trump signed grants Ponder a full pardon for the bank robbery charge, The Hill reported.
“Jon’s life is a beautiful testament to the power of redemption,” Trump said in the video.
“We believe that each person is made by God for a purpose,” the president added.
Ponder got emotional as Trump announced that he would be signing a full pardon.
“I’d like to invite Jon’s wife, Jamie, to join us as I grant Jon — I’m not sure you know this,” the president told Jon Ponder, “a full pardon.”
“Thank you, sir,” Jon Ponder said, appearing to fight back tears.
Ponder looked to be sobbing as Trump signed the order.
“Two years ago, I was honored to tell Jon Ponder’s story of transformation in the Rose Garden on the National Day of Prayer,” Trump said earlier in the video.
“I will continue to give all Americans, including former inmates, the best chance to build a new life and achieve their own American dream.”
Ponder, for his part, appeared to be grateful for his “second chance.”
“Today, praise God, I am filled with hope — a proud American citizen who has been given a second chance,” he said in the video.
“Hope for Prisoners assists with reentry by providing the formerly incarcerated long-term support and services as they work to reclaim their lives, families and standing in the community,” the organization’s website states.
“We give them hope. Hope changes lives.”
“Only 6% of formerly incarcerated individuals who completed the HOPE for Prisoners have been re-incarcerated,” according to a 2020 Fact-Sheet from the organization. “Recidivism is as high as 69% in other states.”
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