In 1994, Mr. Nolan had to make a difficult choice. He could defend himself against charges of public corruption and risk decades in prison, or he could plead guilty and accept a 33-month sentence. Determined to help his wife raise their three young children, Mr. Nolan chose to accept the plea.
Mr. Nolan’s experiences with prosecutors and in prison changed his life. Upon his release, he became a tireless advocate for criminal justice reform and victims’ rights. In fact, it was because of this work that the President learned of Mr. Nolan’s case. Since his release, he has helped to secure the passage of several major criminal justice reforms, including the Prison Rape Elimination Act, the Second Chance Act, the Fair Sentencing Act, and the FIRST Step Act. He is also the author of When Prisoners Return, a guide for churches and community groups working to help former prisoners return to their communities.
While incarcerated, Mr. Nolan helped organize religious-study groups and is uniformly described as a man of principle and integrity. Family and friends have long sought clemency for Mr. Nolan, alongside notable advocates like former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and author Arnold Steinberg. In light of these facts, Mr. Nolan is entirely deserving of this Grant of Executive Clemency.