Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Grits on Recent Texas Pardons

Scott Henson (Grits for Breakfast) is all over the Governor of Texas re a recent lame batch of pardons. Says Henson:
Indeed, it's hard to not consider these pardons a "joke" when you look at the details. E.g., a 73-year old man was granted clemency for a theft conviction from 1955. If the governor had waited any longer he might have had to issue his second ever posthumous pardon. Another pardon recipient spent three days in jail 31 years ago for unlawfully carrying a handgun. If it's true that justice delayed is justice denied, these latter-day pardons hardly constitute justice.

And why pardon one individual who "was convicted of possession of marihuana in 1971 at the age of 21"? What does it really matter if someone is pardoned who received a probated sentence 40 years ago? There are hundreds of thousands of others in the exact same position, after all, who will never benefit from such gubernatorial largesse.

In 2009, 57.9% of all drug arrests in Texas were for marijuana - a total of 69,956 adults. Similar numbers are arrested for marijuana possession annually, and there's no reason to believe this one individual is any more deserving than others who've been arrested for that offense. Issuing a pardon on a 40 year old pot charge is insulting not just to the person pardoned but to the hundreds of thousands of other people similarly positioned who did not receive clemency. If the Governor is going to issue pardons for such petty offenses, the only fair thing to do would be to pardon entire classes of offenders - for example, pot offenders with no other convictions on their record.
See the full, rather snappy post here!

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