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James L. White/Staff

Tracy Lindsey recently received a pardon from Gov. Asa Hutchinson and she got the chance to thank him in person last week.

Tracy Lindsey of Omaha was elated to receive a pardon for her criminal convictions, but she got the chance last week to personally thank Gov. Asa Hutchinson for what amounts to a second chance at life.

Lindsey, now 43, went to prison at the age of 21. She had spent some time as a methamphetamine addict and prison actually turned her life around.

When she got out, she decided she wanted to help other women similarly situated. That led to the founding of the Tetelestai House, a faith-based, one-year residential facility ministering to women exiting jail or prison. Lindsey said statistics show that eight of 10 women incarcerated are on drug offenses, so she understands their plight.

Lindsey discovered there were some unexpected problems with being a convicted felon. She and her husband were denied insurance coverage for their vehicles, but she also found out she couldn’t minister to women in next-door Taney County (Missouri) and some county jails refused to allow convicted felons to minister to female inmates.

In 2016, Lindsey began the process of seeking a pardon. She filled out that application and began collecting letters from character witnesses, then submitted it all in 2018.

“It was a rigorous process,” she recalls.

At that point, she said she had done everything she could. She prayed about it and decided to put it all in God’s hands.

“I was going to be OK either way,” Lindsey said.

Time went by and she didn’t hear anything for almost a year. She had signed up to receive press releases from the governor’s office and in November of last year her name appeared on the list of people for whom the governor was recommending a pardon.

“The day I got the email I was speechless,” she said.

There was a 30-day comment period in case there were objections to Hutchinson’s recommendation. In December, about 40 days later, she got a call from her husband, saying she had received a large envelope from the governor’s office.

“I said, ‘Open it,’” she said. He obliged her and read the official pardon. “We were all crying.”

When Hutchinson was scheduled to be in town as keynote speaker for the annual Harrison Regional Chamber of Commerce banquet, Lindsey hoped to meet him and thank him in person. After Hutchinson spoke at the banquet, he held a short press conference for local media. Lindsey was waiting and when she was introduced to him, the governor immediately went to shake her hand.

She said she told him there really weren’t sufficient words to express her gratitude, but that she would always remember it as she carries her message of hope to addicts.

“You make me very glad that we have the pardon power and that we can give people a good second chance,” Hutchinson said Wednesday.

“I appreciate it,” Lindsey answered. “It will not be wasted, sir.”

Lindsey said the pardon makes a world of difference for her and others who receive one. Often a convicted felon feels as though their lives are defined by a felony conviction.

“A pardon offers the opportunity to rise above that,” Lindsey told the Daily Times.

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