Former Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin issued 428 pardons in his final days in office after his November defeat to Democrat Andy Beshear, the Louisville Courier Journal reported.
That list includes a man who killed his parents, another convicted of reckless homicide and a woman who threw her newborn in the trash, the Washington Post reported.
Dayton Jones, who was convicted after sexually assaulting a 15-year-old boy, was also pardoned, according to Kentucky New Era.
Also pardoned was Micah Schoettle, convicted of raping a child and sentenced to 23 years in prison, CNN affiliate WCPO reported. He served fewer than 18 months.
The victim's mother called the pardon a "slap in the face," the news station reported.
"It feels like we're going through it all over again ... we just got to the point where we felt safe leaving the house and not looking over our shoulders," she told WCPO.
Bevin told the Washington Post he made the decision because he's a "big believer in second chances."
"I think this is a nation that was founded on the concept of redemption and second chances and new pages in life," he said. "If there has been a change and there's no further value that comes for the individual, for society, for the victims, for anybody, if a person continues to stay in, then that's when somebody should be considered for a commutation or a pardon."
Bevin's last day in office was Monday. A spokesman for his campaign didn't comment to the Post.
Amanda Hall, an organizer for the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky, also received a pardon.
"I hope that the governor to come sees the example that you have given us about redemption and second chances and this is one of the best days of my life and thank you," she said in a video retweeted by the organization.
Hall had spent time in jail for drug possession and trafficking, CNN affiliate WAVE reported.
"I hope sooo many more people get to feel this beautiful feeling that I have," she said on Twitter.
But many have been critical of the Republican leader's move.
"What this governor did is an absolute atrocity of justice," Prosecutor Jackie Steele told the Post. "He's put victims, he's put others in our community in danger."
Prosecutor Eddy Montgomery told the Post he told victims' families about the pardons after finding out through the news.
"We're pretty shocked about it," Montgomery said.
Bevin conceded to Beshear last month after requesting all of the state's counties recheck the results of the gubernatorial election.
In a tweet Thursday, the Democratic Governors Association said Bevin "kept standing with special interests until the very end -- even at the expense of Kentuckians' safety and wellbeing."