Thursday, May 17, 2012

Louisiana: Waiting on Jindal

The Times-Picayune has an excellent piece of clemency in Louisiana. It observes that, when the State's five-member Louisiana Pardon Board votes to make someone eligible for parole, they join "a growing subset in Louisiana's criminal justice system" - "several hundred felons -- the vast majority of whom have already served their time and been released -- whose pardon recommendations are waiting on the desk of Gov. Bobby Jindal."

It is reported that, since January 2008, the Pardon Board has sent 450 pardon recommendations to Jindal. "As of early May, he had signed 36 and rejected 36, leaving the rest in limbo. Only one of Jindal's pardons has gone to a person still behind bars."

Previous Gov. Kathleen Blanco, signed 285 of the 331 pardon recommendations that reached her desk during her four-year term. "87 went to prisoners, either shortening their terms or setting them immediately free." Republican Mike Foster, signed 460 pardons during his eight years in office, "with the vast majority coming in his second term when he was a lame duck."

Jindal says that he reviews each pardon request, but stresses the Pardon Board's recommendation is just a recommendation. He articulates his philosophy of pardon as follows: "Nobody that comes before the board or comes to the governor's office is automatically entitled to a pardon." Profound.

But, says the TimesPicayune, "Some wonder what the Pardon Board and its members' $36,000 annual salaries are good for if the governor so rarely takes its recommendations." Indeed.

See lots of other great details in the story here.

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