Monday, January 16, 2012

Christian Alternative to Haley Barbour

Haley Barbour has wrapped eight years of neglect and a last-minute splurge of pardons in the cloak of Christianity, the religion of most Mississippians. But it is interesting to compare Barbour's callous behavior and cartoonish justifications with the vision of Chuck Colson's Prison Fellowship / Justice Fellowship. The Fellowship notes:
Most offenders’ shackles do not disappear when they finish their sentences and walk out the prison gates. Rather, for the rest of their lives they endure the invisible punishments of their convictions: restrictions on employment, housing, civic involvement, gun ownership, and even coaching sports. Many of these restrictions have no relation to the ex-offenders’ crimes but are simply part of blanket barriers to opportunities. State laws vary, but in general the consequences of having a criminal background are substantial - unless an offender receives a pardon.
For these reasons, the Fellowship laments the fact that:
... most state governors exercise their powers of executive clemency and pardon with scant regularity.
And argues:
Executives that fail to exercise their duty of pardon in appropriate cases deny deserving offenders the relief that can transform their lives.
As for not having time for clemency until the last possible minute ... the Fellowship notes:
... granting clemency and pardons should become a more common practice for government executives. Justice Fellowship believes the biblical narrative provides a compelling case for the value of forgiveness, and government executives should take seriously their responsibility to consider situations that warrant forgiveness.
See full discussion of clemency here.

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