Boise, ID. – Almost ten years ago, Larry Jasper was a convicted felon – a newly paroled Idaho drug offender with a high school education who was hoping to finally get his life on track.
Today, the 49-year-old former Payette County man has a doctoral degree and a legitimate chance of realizing a personal milestone and professional aspiration. It took years of sobriety, commitment, study, and Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter’s pardon of Jasper for his Idaho crimes.
Jasper now lives in Newberg, Oregon, where he studied clinical psychology at George Fox University after getting out of prison in Idaho. He earned his doctorate in May 2016. Those studies, and the potential for leveraging them into a career, led him to apply for a pardon.
“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 in his application to the Idaho Commission of Pardons and Parole. “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, and the Governor studied his case carefully before deciding in February to give him the second chance he was looking for. Sandy Jones, the Commission’s executive director, said it’s a best-case scenario that provides an important lesson for others.
“Mr. Jasper is an example of why a pardon process exists in Idaho,” Jones said. “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.”
Governor Otter agreed. In considering such requests, he focuses on what applicants want to do with the renewed possibilities that a pardon would allow and how they would pay those opportunities forward. In the case of Dr. Jasper, the husband and father whose methamphetamine and heroin use led to prison now wants to help others with substance abuse and behavioral health problems find their own paths to recovery and success.
“My dedication to the treatment of persons suffering from addictions actually helps contribute to my sobriety, giving back by helping others,” he said. “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.”
The obvious change in Jasper’s approach to life since his parole was among the reasons Governor Otter saw value in approving his pardon request. Dr. Kristie Knows His Gun, an assistant professor of psychology at George Fox, joined in endorsing Jasper’s application.
“Larry has overcome many obstacles, yet he remains humble and appreciative,” she said. “His dedication to his lifelong recovery and rehabilitation is only another layer that reflects his grit and perseverance.”
A pardon does not expunge criminal charges, convictions and sentences from an individual’s record, but it does provide official acknowledgement and recognition of significant rehabilitation and change. That offers important context for potential employers and opens new career possibilities for former offenders.
Jasper’s pardon was the third granted by Governor Otter during his 12 years in office. The first two, in May 2013, also were for men paroled from drug convictions who subsequently turned their lives around.