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CJRC Obtains Clemency for Client

January 13, 2020

  • Left to Right: Aliza Kaplan, Joe O'Leary, Governor Kate Brown, Johnathan Baker, Venetia Mayhew.

Governor Kate Brown commuted Johnathan Baker’s, a client of the Criminal Justice Reform Clinic, sentence on December 17, 2019. A minor when he was convicted, Baker was released from custody two and a half years early on his ten-year sentence.  

Baker had pleaded No Contest to Manslaughter under a theory of extreme emotional distress in 2012 when he was seventeen. After his conviction, Baker was sent to the Oregon Youth Authority (OYA) and spent the next seven years changing his life and positively impacting the OYA community. 

In Oregon, if a minor has time remaining on their sentence after their 25th birthday, they are transferred from OYA to a Department of Corrections’ (DOC) adult prison to serve their remaining time. The clemency petition, drafted by the CJRC, was filed in October 2018, two years before Jonathan’s 25th birthday and DOC transfer date, requesting clemency before Johnathan would be sent to the Department of Corrections in May of 2020. 

Destini Martinez (’21) worked on Baker’s petition during the fall of 2018. She conducted numerous interviews, reviewed all the case records, and worked on drafting and putting together the voluminous petition, under the supervision of former Clinic fellowship attorney Venetia Mayhew (’17). 

“Working with Venetia, Destini worked incredibly hard work on this case; she was instrumental in drafting this petition over many months,” stated professor Aliza Kaplan, CJRC director.

The 50-page petition explores the story of Baker’s difficult and abusive upbringing that led him to commit the crime and how, since then, he has transformed his life. He became an intake mentor for other incarcerated youth while at the Hillcrest and MacLaren facilities, received a barbering license, and continued his education at Oregon State University with a goal to receive a Bachelor’s degree in Human Development. The petition collected 36 letters of support for Baker from family, friends, supervisors, and OYA employees.

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