Sunday, March 9, 2008

Hawaii: Meddling with Pardon Power?

An editorial in today's Honolulu Star-Bulletin calls on the Hawaii state legislature to "stop meddling' with the pardon power. According to the editorial. Gov. Linda Lingle (R) has issued more than 70 pardons since taking office five years ago - a number that is "consistent" with past governors. And, according to the Star-Bulletin, none of the pardon have been "controversial." Nonetheless, the state legislature has approved a bill that would require the judicial branch to review all probation applicants, leaving the Paroling Authority to review only applications from those imprisoned or on parole. The bill would also require the governor to give 30 days of public notice, including the reason(s), before issuing a pardon. See more details here.

1 comment:

P.S. Ruckman, Jr. said...

EDITOR: Interestingly, from the late 1800's to 1932, the Annual Report of the U.S. Attorney General contained a list of all individual federal pardons and contained a column which also included comments by the Attorney General or the President. That is, the column often amounted to an explanation for the clemency decision. But political scientist W.H. Humbert correctly noted that, as interesting as that information was, there was nothing like any real guarantee that the stated reasons were the real (or actual) reasons for the grant of clemency. As such, any effort to require the executive (federal or state) to provide reasons is doomed to ambiguity or an increase in controversy.

Say a governor is looking at 500 applications from individuals who have served their sentences, have lived productive lives and have strong character references. That is to say, by almost any measure, they ALL are worthy of clemency. The governor then reaches in that pile and pardons an individual who is a party donor. The governor points to the service, the law-abiding life-style and the character references as the reason for the clemency. So, where are we then?

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