Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Rhode Island: Not Again!

The Boston Herald reports that Rep. Peter Martin (of Rhode Island) has "filed a bill" asking the governor to pardon a man "historians" think was wrongly hanged. Great. Is there any end to strategies to make the pardon power more silly, irrelevant and selective looking?

In this instance, one John Gordon (described as an "Irish immigrant") was executed in 1845 (yes, you read that right). But, now, more than one hundred and sixty years later, "some think" (yes, you read that right), Mr. Gordon "was convicted on the basis of circumstantial evidence, in a flawed trial that pitted the ruling class against the immigrant working class." It is also reported that Gordon's case "led to Rhode Island abolishing the death penalty a few years later." It is not yet explained what relationship the case has to Rhode Island's reinstatement of the death penalty in 1872, and the fact that the State then retained the death penalty for over a century.

Why it does not occur to Rep. Martin to simply request an executive order, or public proclamation, from the Governor - which would take all of three minutes to create, deliver to the media and announce - is beyond all intelligent explanation. No. No reason to go that route when we can, instead, sap up the time, energy and resources of a State during financially challenging time that living persons (in and out of prison) are competing for!

Meanwhile, we can certainly give credit to the State of Rhode Island for its perfect record in convictions and sentencing. Imagine an entire state where not a single living person is wrongly executed, where every sentence is beyond question, perfectly in line with every notion of justice and in exact proportion to flawless understanding of the law. Imagine an entire state, where not a single living prisoner is rehabilitated and no such person has served a single minute past the point where further incarceration was warranted, or necessary if not unjust. Imagine a state where no living person has been waiting and waiting for - if not positive news - a mere up or down vote on a clemency application. Imagine a state where no living persons fails to even apply for clemency because the odds against them appear so long. Such is the great state of Rhode Island - a place where NO ONE has been granted a pardon or commutation of sentence in over 100 years!

See details on this silly story here.


Rep. Peter Martin said...

Justice has not statute of limitations.

P.S. Ruckman, Jr. said...

EDITOR - Brilliant. But, if Rhode Island can only find justice for dead people, once every century, well, it might as well have a statute of limitations. Best,

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