Friday, April 18, 2008

Minnesota: Before the Board

The Pioneer Press has an intriguing piece today at It describes the efforts of several individuals who have recently appeared before the State Board of Pardons - which is composed of Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R), Attorney General Lori Swanson and Chief Justice Russell Anderson form the state Board of Pardons. For example, eighty-year-old Emilia Acosta appeared before the Board to explain why she shot and killed her husband back in 1971. The article reports Acosta finished her sentence "long ago" and was asking the State to "forgive her" and wipe her "slate clean." Here is a snippet:
Like Acosta, most people who come before the board have finished their prison or jail terms decades ago and seek what is known as a "pardon extraordinary.'' This means they would no longer be legally required to report convictions when asked.

But there is much more at stake than the legal process. People came from manufacturing plants and office desks and check-out posts to admit to this daunting and public tribunal that they did something very wrong. Their lives are still encumbered by these long-ago crimes, most of them far less serious than Acosta's. They want the state to let them turn the page.
Acosta submitted letters of recommendation and brought along a character witness. The chief justice noted her conviction was commuted from first- to second-degree murder after her mental health problems were taken into account. Gov. Pawlenty oberved that crimes of such severity are generally not pardoned. The governor then called for a vote and no one supported the pardon. See full story here.

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