Saturday, June 7, 2008

Delaware: An Inside Look at Pardons

An article by Esteban Parra of The News Journal really caught our eye because of the title: MANY FIND SECOND CHANCE IN DELAWARE BOARD OF PARDONS. First thought, of course was, "What? Is there really any such place?" The article is based on 16 years of records recently released by the State under the Freedom of Information Act. It notes that one man is:

... one of about 2,300 convicts who have sought a pardon or commutation from the board since 1991, and one of about 1,800 to succeed with a clemency plea before the five-member panel, made up of the Chancery Court Chancellor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, state treasurer and state auditor.

... Most prisoners jailed for serious crimes such as murder, rape or robbery are denied by the Board of Pardons, the review shows

... Of 265 such requests to the Board, 56 -- or 21 percent -- were recommended for approval. Of those, 39 -- or 70 percent -- were granted by Carper, his predecessor, Mike Castle (now a Republican U.S. representative), or current Gov. Ruth Ann Minner.

Those in prison for more common crimes such as passing bad checks, alcohol possession or shoplifting were much more likely to be recommended for pardon or commutation. Ninety to 99 percent of such applications received a positive recommendation.

The board considered 126 cases involving murder -- first- or second-degree murder, conspiracy, attempted murder or acting as an accomplice -- and recommended three pardons and 18 commutations, according to the records. Of those 21 recommendations, 12 were granted, seven were denied and two are awaiting a decision by Minner. Minner has granted the three pardons.

Requets for pardon in Delaware usually come from people trying to restore their civil rights. Governor Minner is quoted as saying,"The decision on whether to grant a pardon is one of the most important of my job as governor. It can have a tremendous impact on a person's life, which is why I consider all information available to me before reaching my conclusion. Our pardons process is an opportunity for a second chance, and I want to make sure that those who truly deserve it have that chance."

Interestingly, a current member of the Board is Sen. Tom Carper (D), a former governor who, as governor, denied 15 percent of the board's positive recommendations (Minner has rejected 8 percent). Former Governor Michael Castle (R) disagreed with only 2 percent, but the data only cover his last year in office. Carper says he has something of a "checklist" when considering clemency. He focuses on 1) how much of the sentence a person had served 2) what the petitioner did with time in prison 3) whether a person accepted responsibility for their crime and 4) how remorseful they were.

As is the case with a recent piece PardonPower reviewed on the clemency process in Florida, this piece highlights the details of some specific cases and the lives of some clemency applicants. See full article here.

No comments:

blogger templates | Make Money Online