Jon Ponder, the Creator of the Hope for Prisoners reentry program for Criminals in Las Vegas, was awarded a Complete pardon by President Donald Trump at a Demonstration broadcast during the Republican National Convention on Tuesday.
In a recorded movie, Ponder appeared at the White House along with Trump and Richard Beasley, the now-retired FBI agent who busted him for a series of bank robberies some 15 years back and who is now among his best buddies.
After comments, Trump called Ponder’s wife, Jamie, and amazed the three-time convicted felon by signing an Executive Grant of Clemency.
Who is Ponder?
Ponder grew up in New York and became involved in gangs, and has been hooked on alcohol and drugs, leading to his first arrest at age 12, he has said. He then spent the next 25 years in and out of prison before landing himself in a federal prison following a drug and alcohol induced bank robbery.
He faced up to 23 years in federal prison, but was only sentenced to five.
Ponder and Richard Beasley, the former FBI agent who arrested Ponder and has since become one of his best buddies, delivered remarks alongside Trump throughout the convention later Tuesday, the theme of which will be”Land of Opportunity.”
The video of Trump registering the pardon, which was filmed at the White House, aired following their remarks.
“2 Years Back, I was honored to inform Jon Ponder’s narrative of transformation in the Rose Garden about the National Day of Prayer,” Trump said in the video. “Jon’s life is a beautiful testament to the power of redemption.”
Trump explained how Ponder, after being arrested for bank robbery, started studying the Bible in prison and later founded”Hope for Prisoners,” a reentry application in Nevada which helps former offenders begin productive lives.
“I will continue to give all Americans, including former inmates, the very best chance to construct a new lifestyle and reach their own American dream,” Trump said.
“Today, praise God, I’m filled with hope — a proud American citizen that has been given a second opportunity,” said Ponder, who with Beasley appeared alongside Trump from the movie.
“You’ve done incredible work,” Trump told Ponder. “And most of Las Vegas, and all Nevada, and all of every area in this country is very proud of you.”
How can he catch the president’s eye?
As a prior inmate himself, Ponder began the Hope for Prisoners application after worrying out of a prison cell how he was planning to restart his life following what would eventually become his final stint in prison.
Hope for Prisoners is an 18-month application that was started in 2009, and entails job coaching, mentorship and counseling. The initiative has allegedly supported over 3,100 people re-entering society post-prison.
Trump and Ponder met and in 2018 when the president honored Ponder along with the FBI Special Agent Richard Beasley, who arrested the then 38-year older in 2004, at a White House Rose Garden ceremony.
Trump subsequently attended a Hope for Prisoners graduation ceremony in February, earlier this year.
Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak. Courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen —Winston Churchill Sept 3, 2020, 8am PST National Conference Call @hopeforprisoners LE Partnership with @lvmpd #listen #learn #love #lead #modelforamerica https://t.co/tMyVD3OmYO pic.twitter.com/g3j3ZYdBkY— HOPE for Prisoners (@hope4prisoners1) August 16, 2020
TRUMP ANNOUNCES PARDON OF JON PONDER AHEAD OF GOP CONVENTION APPEARANCE
Why did Trump pardon him?
“He’s created one of the very succesful reentry applications, Hope For Prisoners, in Las Vegas,” Trump said in a video taped in the White House. “Hope for prisoners is a movement which started as a fantasy, in a very small prison cell, and is now making a difference in the lives of thousands, truly bringing hope that there’s an opportunity and a community that’s waiting and eager to supply them another chance.”
In the movie, Ponder stood alongside the president, and about the opposite side of Trump was Beasley — both have become”lifelong” buddies since Ponder’s incarceration.
Ponder told his story of salvation. Facing more than 20 years in federal prison after being convicted, he stated he asked God for another chance. Sitting in a mobile, Ponder said God talked to himand from that day he realized that his life had changed, and he pledged to keep his promise to serve others.
Out of prison five decades afterwards, Ponder contacted Beasley, the FBI agent who bought him coffee and a doughnut before hauling him off to prison. They met for lunch and Ponder explained to him Hope for Prisoners, a program which helps offenders get back on their feet when they are set free.
Two years back, Trump encouraged Ponder into the Rose Garden, in which the president emphasized Ponder’s achievements nationally for the first time.
Before this year, Ponder encouraged Trump to Metro Police headquarters to get a Hope for Prisoners graduation, where the president shook hands with the 21 graduates.
Ponder gave a nod to Trump and Metro, which aids him with the app. Thank you for everything that you do to develop community in @CityOfLasVegas!”
Nevada Assemblyman Tom Roberts, who is also a former Metro assistant sheriff:”Well deserved.”
Today, President Donald J. Trump signed an Executive Grant of Clemency (Full Pardon) for Jon Ponder. Mr. Ponder is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Hope for Prisoners, Inc., an organization he established after serving a 63-month sentence for several robberies. In prison, Mr. Ponder became a Christian and dedicated his life to helping other prisoners. Hope for Prisoners was born of Mr. Ponder’s own journey to transform his life.
Hope for Prisoners is a re-entry program that assists former inmates as they work to reunite with their families, reenter the workforce, and rejoin the community. It is an intensive program designed to provide former inmates with the skills they need to succeed outside of prison. In addition to providing formerly incarcerated persons with professional development, character education, leadership skills, financial literacy, technology training, and other life skills, the organization also pairs them with mentors from law enforcement, the judicial system, the business community, and the faith community to aid their transition. Through an extraordinary partnership with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, Hope for Prisoners enlists police officers to help former inmates rebuild their lives. Since its founding, Hope for Prisoners has served thousands of formerly incarcerated persons in the Las Vegas area.
Numerous civic leaders from the Las Vegas area have expressed support for Jon Ponder. In addition, the State of Nevada granted a pardon to Mr. Ponder earlier this year.
Today, Jon Ponder is a source of inspiration for former inmates who desire to rebuild their lives when they leave prison. In light of these facts and in recognition of his contributions to improve the Las Vegas community, including his exemplary commitment to provide others with a better second chance, the President has concluded that Jon Ponder is deserving of this pardon.