Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Illinois: A Pardon Appreciated

Steve Mills of the Chicago Tribune has written an informative piece on the case of one sixty-eight-year old Ida Mae West-Clayton, who killed her husband in October of 1964. Earlier this month, she was pardoned by Governor Quinn. At the time of the killing, West was 20 years old and pregnant. Her husband, an Army veteran, was drinking when he began assaulting her, telling her he was going to kick her child out of the womb. West grabbed a small knife to protect herself, and pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter in exchange for a shorter sentence.

West went on to have three more children, earn her GED and work "a series of jobs, including one at the University of Illinois at Chicago Medical Center for 19 years." She also became a supervisor "before going on disability after a son was shot to death." When she applied for a job watching, however, the conviction "turned up" and her application was denied.

West-Clayton filed her clemency petition in 2006. After the Prisoner Review Board hearing, then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich failed to act. Governor Quinn has made things better. See story here.

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