Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Watch List: About the Watch List

Over the last couple of weeks, I have talked to reporters from the Washington Post and the Chicago Tribune who have expressed interest in PardonPower's Pardon Watch List. The legitimate questions were: What determines whether or not an individual gets on the list? and do I expect everyone on the list to be pardoned?

I have generally utilized the following criterion for adding individuals to the List: If an individual has been involved in a high-profile case or enjoys celebrity status, then I have put them on the list. I have especially done so if someone (a columnist, politician, or significant legal actor) has publicly called for clemency on their behalf, or has gone so far as to predict clemency. On the other hand, if public figures have called on the President to pardon relatively unknown persons in notable ways (speeches, editorials or publications), then I have also added names to the List. Likewise, if I have become aware of any organized effort to obtain clemency on someone else's behalf (petition drive, online petition, etc.)

Do I expect everyone on the List to be pardoned? I certainly do not. And that is all the more reason to keep it, and to attend to it regularly. We all know the boiler-plate criticisms of the criminal justice system: those that have the gold rule ... if you don't have the capital, then you get the punishment ... etc. While such rhetoric is not without grounding, it would be intellectually irresponsible to fail to recognize that prominent, well-connected, rich, celebrated persons do not always get what they want (apologies to Mr. Jagger and Co.). Justice Department officials are fond of addressing pardon "controversies" by noting that the typical pardon is granted to an unknown, an average person - if you will, in a non-controversial way. Although I am not aware of anyone having ever disputed that point, the Pardon Watch List, in effect, makes it more persuasively, and in advance of the oncoming storm.

And there's no need to worry or doubt. It will come.

No comments:

blogger templates | Make Money Online