Illinois governor grants 20 New Years Eve clemency petitions

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker granted 20 petitions for clemency hours ahead of the New Year, marking the Democrat's first major batch of petitions since taking office nearly a year ago.

The cases, dating back to 1975, included battery, drug possession, attempted burglary and theft, according to a list released Tuesday by the Illinois Prisoner Review Board.

People whose clemency petitions are granted may go to court to try to have their criminal records expunged. All have undergone a recent criminal background check through an Illinois law enforcement data system.

The batch is separate from the thousands of pardons Pritzker announced earlier in the day under the state's new marijuana legalization law. The approximately 11,000 pardons for low-level marijuana convictions came through an automatic process.

The group of 20 are from petition seekers who want to clear their records, often times in hopes of improving job opportunities.

Pritzker pardoned four individuals earlier this year, including Miguel Perez. The U.S. Army veteran who had a green card was deported to Mexico because of a 2008 drug-trafficking conviction. The pardon allowed him to return to the country and he has since become a U.S. citizen.