Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Georgia: Another Not So Shocking Pardon / Parole Story

By the time she was eighteen years old, in 1961, Rita Underwood was a frequent run away. When she added "larceny of an auto" to her resume, she found herself working on a one-to-five year sentence at Georgia State Penitentiary. Where would Mitt Romney, or the recent critics of Mike Huckabee have you think this story will go?

Underwood was paroled after just four months and she then sought, and won, a full pardon from Governor Jimmy Carter. The typewriter produced document declared that she had "lived the life of a law-abiding citizen before and since" her conviction and was "fully rehabilitated" to the "satisfaction" of the State Board of Pardons and Paroles.
Underwood married, raised two children and worked as a waitress every now and then but, as a Wichita Times story notes:
... whenever she sought a higher-paying job, she was faced with ominous job applications that always asked the question, “Have you ever been arrested?” She often fled rather than answer. She also noticed other effects from her time spent in prison. She was terrified that a police officer might approach her and question her. She also struggled with her self-image. “I felt like I had ‘Big Loser’ written on my forehead.”
She didn't feel like a "hardened criminal." So she applied for the pardon. 49 years later, there is no story to tell about the short-sightedness of Governor Carter or the Board. Underwood has not been the source of a single shocking headline, not even an inaccurate one! See full story here.

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