President Donald Trump pardoned Jon Ponder, a bank robbed turned activist, during the second night of the 2020 Republican National Convention, which centered around the theme “land of opportunity.” Ponder, 54, was convicted of robbery in Nevada in 2005 and, since his release in 2009, founded the organization Hope for Prisoners, a nonprofit designed to help prisoners re-enter society.

In a pre-recorded pardoning ceremony, Trump praised Ponder’s actions, saying, “You’ve done incredible work. Every place in this country is proud of you.”

Ponder made a speech, as well, expressing his pride and hope in being given a second chance. “My hope for America is that formerly incarcerated people will be afforded the opportunity to take advantage of the fact that we live in a nation of second chances,” he said.

The pardon effectively brought the issue of criminal justice reform to the forefront, a topic that Trump has frequently highlighted in order to reach out to black voters, who are expected to vote overwhelmingly in support of Biden in the November election.

Throughout his presidency, Trump has pardoned many people who he knew closely or whose situations resonated with him. Ponder and Trump first met in 2018 during the White House’s National Day of Prayer ceremony, then met again in early 2020 when the president gave a commencement address at Hope for Prisoners’ graduation ceremony. Trump mentioned the he was considering pardoning Ponder during his speech.



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