Rick Bowmer, Associated Press
In this Feb. 24, 2012, file photo shows Oregon's outgoing governor, John Kitzhaber, looking on during a education news conference, in Salem, Ore.

SALEM, Ore. — As one of his final acts in office, Oregon's outgoing governor, John Kitzhaber, commuted the prison sentence of a young inmate convicted of attempted murder.

The commutation, obtained by The Associated Press, was signed Tuesday, a day before Kitzhaber handed power to his successor, Kate Brown. Brown signed the document in her former role as secretary of state.

Sang Dao, 25, will be released from prison March 17. Department of Corrections records show his earliest possible release date had been in November 2018.

He'll be released less than eight years into a 12-year sentence for attempted murder, unlawful use of a weapon and assault.

It was not immediately clear why Kitzhaber granted clemency to Dao.

Dao earned a bachelor's degree from Portland State University while confined at the MacLaren Youth Correctional Facility, according to spokesman CJ Drake.

"His conduct and his reformation while he was with us was exemplary," Drake said. "He's an example of a youth who took advantage of all the benefits and the programs that we offered, and he made the most of them. We're all very proud of Sang."

Kitzhaber's fiancee, Cylvia Hayes, spoke at the graduation ceremony last summer, telling the graduates that "education is something no one can take from you."

Hayes was at the center of the ethics controversy that prompted Kitzhaber to step down effective Wednesday. The former governor has denied wrongdoing on both their parts.

Dao was transferred in November to a state prison in Salem when he aged out of the youth correctional system.