Wednesday, May 21, 2003
Columbia, S.C. James Brown had plenty of reason to feel good on Tuesday as South Carolina officials pardoned the soul legend for his past crimes in that state.
Brown, who served a two-and-a-half-year prison term after a 1988 arrest on drug and assualt charges, and was convicted of a drug-related offense in 1998, was granted a pardon by the state Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon Services.
Brown, who appeared before the board, sang "God Bless America" after the decision, said his publicist, Dan Forman.
"God bless America on this beautiful day. I hope my pardon shows the youth that America is a beautiful country," Brown said. "I feel good!"
Brown, 70, had friends, family and state lawmakers speak on his behalf.
Brown, famous for countless hits, including "I Feel Good," "Sex Machine" and "Living in America," unsuccessfully tried to get a pardon for his crimes in 2001. Tuesday's pardon means he is fully forgiven from all the legal consequences of his crimes and his convictions.
In September 1988, Brown, high on PCP and carrying a shotgun, entered an insurance seminar next to his Augusta, Ga., office and asked seminar participants if they were using his private rest room, according to authorities.
Police chased Brown for a half-hour from Augusta into South Carolina and back to Georgia. The chase ended when police shot out the tires of his truck.
Brown received a six-year prison sentence after he was convicted on charges of assault, failure to stop for a law enforcement officer, resisting arrest, carrying a pistol and drug possession. He spent 15 months in a prison near Columbia, S.C., and 10 months in a work-release program in Aiken before being paroled on Feb. 27, 1991.
In 1998, police found marijuana and guns at Brown's home when sheriff's deputies took him into custody on a probate judge's order as a "mental transport."
Brown spent a week in a private Columbia hospital, recovering from what his agent said was dependency on painkillers that the singer took after hurting his back during a show.
He was convicted of use of a weapon while under the influence, but completed a 90-day drug program.
To receive a pardon in South Carolina, a person must apply to the Pardon and Parole department. The board hears about 200 or 300 pardon cases annually and about 60 percent to 65 percent of those pardons are granted, a spokesman said.