... the sons and daughter of politicians deserve justice, and fair consideration, as much as anyone else. The same goes for a governor's (or president's) political allies, supporters, donors and party leaders. An individual should not be exempt from any possibility of clemency simply because they share enthusiastic support for the same party or political views as a governor, or president ...Case in point, a recent Los Angeles Times article which notes "the reduced prison sentence that Arnold Schwarzenegger recently extended to a political ally's son stands in stark contrast to the former governor's denial of clemency for dozens of inmates involved in similar crimes." Indeed the Times has discovered that, in at least 29 instances, the State's parole board recommended clemency for inmates serving lengthy sentences and the governor declined to act on behalf of any of them. It is also reported that 11 of those individuals had no previous criminal record. And, of course, the Times has uncovered many other significant details of theses cases. The solution? As we said before:
However, when executives neglect the pardon power for long periods of time and establish a reputation for outright stinginess, it is reasonable enough to expect that any leniency in the direction of such persons will be heavily scrutinized and criticized - and deservedly so. If Schwarzenegger had granted 200 other commutations of sentence to persons whom he believed received sentences that were "too harsh," then he could at least make a respectable argument that he has a genuine concern for such circumstances. But, when he exhibits precious little interest in such matters, generally and specifically, and then moans about a supposedly overly-severe sentence given to the son of a person who is a business partner with his chief political adviser ... and during the last hours of his administration ... it stinks to high heaven, impugning his judgement, his sense of fairness and, sadly enough, the public's perception of clemency.
The solution is simple, and does not involve restricting the governor's (or the president's) power one bit. The solution is regular, consistent use of the pardon power throughout the term. The general effect would be threefold 1) The public will be educated to the fact that the typical act of clemency is (or at least can be) without controversy 2) There will be less pressure (political and personal) on executives to grant pardons and commutations at the end of the term, and less need for executives to cave in to such pressure 3) "Controversial" pardons will be be less so, because there will be a greater sense that executives are not simply reserving clemency powers for their friends and those with extraordinary access, at the last minute, when no one can be held accountable. Instead, the perception can be that pardons are for all kinds of individuals and the "notables" (who, again, are as deserving of justice and fair consideration as anyone else) are simply a few data points in a big pile.See complete Times story here.