... What may be far more relevant today is the utterly dysfunctional nature of the Pardons Board. This constitutionally formed body is overwhelmed with trivialities -- meeting monthly to hear the relatively minor cases or youthful indiscretions that in today's super-security conscious environment become criminal records that are obstacles to employment.He adds:
More serious cases, like life-sentenced prisoners being considered for commutations, are almost never heard. The backlog is said to approach three years from the time an appeal is filed. Unlike most other states, Pennsylvania denies parole eligibility to all life- and death-sentenced prisoners. So commutation provides the sole glimmer of hope for more than 4,000 prisoners. Since 1995, the Pardons Board has only recommended three prisoners for commutation and governors have granted just two of them ...
... This is a Pardons Board that was reinforcing its record of supporting perpetual punishment and negativity. It does not function in the arena of "corrections"; it does nothing to promote positive values and achievement ...As it turns out, Hassine was "a good, if not model, prisoner." He wrote a supplement to standard criminal justice textbooks and donated royalties to various charities. He was a also a literacy tutor and teacher's aide. In 1991 he attended the annual meeting of the Pennsylvania Prison Society and was presented the Prisoner of the Year Award. DiMascio concludes:
How do we as a society expect to curtail the violence in our communities if our governing bodies continue to promote vengeance, retribution and retaliation? We should be demanding that the agencies empowered to act on our behalf model values that we want the citizenry to replicate. Compassion is one of those values, and empathy and clemency are others.See the full editorial here.