Trump pardons bank robber-turned-activist Ponder before RNC’s Night Two
Born-again Christian Jon Ponder, founder of the reentry program Hope for Prisoners, had served five years behind bars.
President Donald Trump has pardoned a Black convicted felon at the White House.
Ahead of the second night of the 2020 Republican National Convention, Trump signed an unexpected pardoning of Jon Ponder, a former inmate and born-again Christian.
The seven-minute, filmed signing was used to paint Trump as a criminal justice reformer who simultaneously respects law enforcement. RNC aired it after Ponder and former FBI guy Richard Beasley spoke alongside the president.
The RNC’s night was themed “Land of Opportunity,” The Hill reported.
In 2005, Ponder pleaded guilty to two Las Vegas bank robberies, and he was arrested by then-agent Richard Beasley, who eventually became Ponder’s friend during his transition to Christianity.
Ponder eventually established Hope for Prisoners in 2010, which serves as a reentry program to help former prisoners better their lives.
“Today, praise God, I am filled with hope — a proud American citizen who has been given a second chance,” said Ponder, who, with Beasley, appeared alongside Trump in the video.
“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 in the clip. “Jon’s life is a beautiful testament to the power of redemption.”
“I will continue to give all Americans, including former inmates, the best chance to build a new life and achieve their own American dream,” Trump said.
The nonprofit program provides job training, mentorship and counseling to individuals leaving jail, The New York Times reported.
According to the Times, Ponder’s criminal record also includes three charges relating to domestic violence between 1995 and 2001.
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