Around New England

Massachusetts Governor’s Council Approves Pardon For Haiti-Born Bank Robber

September 14, 2023

The Massachusetts Governor’s Council has unanimously approved a pardon for Kenny Jean, a Haitian immigrant who robbed a bank in Seekonk in 2015.

The pardon of Jean’s armed robbery felony conviction makes it unlikely that Jean, 28, will be deported. He has lived in the United States since he was 6. According to a lawyer who represents him, Jean has “a borderline IQ ~70” and has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress syndrome, reactive attachment disorder, and attention deficit disorder with hyperactivity.

The Governor’s Council voted 7-0 on Wednesday, September 13 on a voice vote to confirm the pardon, which was recommended by the Massachusetts Parole Board and by Governor Maura Healey.

All seven current members of the Governor’s Council are Democrats. Each is an elected official who represents a geographical district in the state.

Marilyn Pettito Devaney, a member of the Governor’s Council from Watertown first elected in 1999, was the only member to speak about Jean’s case before the vote.

“I’m going to just say … in my 24 years, I never saw such a tragic story come before me about the life of this petitioner. This young man came from Haiti, and mother and father had given him up in Haiti to a grandmother, and they were visibly abusive, and he came to this country really abandoned, became homeless. He was alone,” Devaney said.

The Governor’s Council held a public hearing on Jean’s pardon Wednesday, September 6, as reported last week by New Boston Post.

Only two members of the council attended that hearing.

During the meeting Wednesday, September 13, Devaney chided most of her fellow council members for not attending the council’s pardon hearing. She said another member of the council, whom she didn’t name, told her that other councilors boycotted the hearing because Devaney was chairing it.

Terrence Kennedy, a lawyer from Lynnfield and a member of the council, said he was at a trial in Boston Municipal Court and could not attend the hearing. He said he hadn’t heard anything about a boycott, and called Devaney’s claim “nonsensical.”

But Kennedy also said he doesn’t believe in holding public hearings on pardons.

“I don’t believe in doing hearings on these pardons because of that device there,” Kennedy said, pointing, apparently at a camera in the room. “It defeats the purpose of the pardon, which is designed to let people move on with their lives. The pardon doesn’t mean anything when they can just Google it, and look at the hearing. O.K.?  So I don’t believe in doing pardons on these, except in a very unusual circumstance. … As a general rule, I don’t think we should be doing them.”


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