Samantha Heiges will finish her sentence under supervised release.
Attorney General Keith Ellison, Governor Tim Walz and Chief Justice Lorie Skjerven Gildea listened during pardon hearings in June of 2019.
In a two-day marathon hearing, the Minnesota Board of Pardons’ first act of forgiveness cut short the prison time of a woman who drowned her newborn out of fear the baby’s father would kill them both if she didn’t go through with the act.
The unanimous vote on Monday means — effective immediately — Samantha Heiges will be released from the women’s prison in Shakopee and placed under a supervision plan designed by state correctional officials.
“It’s my hope that this process continues to be used to move lives on,” Gov. Tim Walz said Monday at the start of the meeting, which will stretch on for two days and cover roughly four dozen cases.
The Minnesota Board of Pardons, which is made up of the governor, attorney general and chief justice of the state Supreme Court, meets twice each year and has the power to effectively clear someone’s criminal record if they’ve shown they’ve changed their ways.
The board can lessen offenders’ prison sentences, such as in Heiges’ case, but more often they consider absolving citizens of their crimes after they’ve served their time and shown demonstrable rehabilitation.
Walz said they received so many applications that members agreed to hold the meeting over the span of two days. Many individuals made heartfelt pleas for forgiveness, often speaking through tears.
Heiges, 35, has already served more than a dozen years of her nearly 25 year sentence, but she asked the board to allow her to serve the rest of her time on supervised release so she can care for her 13-year-old daughter.