Saturday, May 19, 2012

Ohio: Kasich and the Pardon Power

The Columbus Dispatch reports Gov. John Kasich "has used his executive clemency power moderately during his 16 months in office, sparing the lives of two convicted killers (Shawn Hawkins and Joseph Murphy) but approving only 5 percent of 412 requests" (with 278 others waiting). On the other hand, the report says, he has "done far better than his predecessor, Ted Strickland, in keeping up with clemency requests." According to the report:
Strickland made no decisions for nearly three years in office and rushed to complete hundreds of cases in his last few months as governor. 
Records show he has approved pardons "in 14 older, less-serious cases for former prisoners who wanted to clear their criminal records for employment or education purposes." A spokesman (oh Lordy!) says Kasich sees clemency as:
being “about giving some deserving people a second chance. ... He looks at what’s the right thing to do in every case. “There are some people whose closest friends aren’t aware of their records because they’ve dramatically turned their lives around and made something good out of it.” 
According to the Dispatch, Kasich’s 5 percent approval record compares with Strickland's roughly 20 percent (of 1,615 cases between 2005 to 2010). Former Gov. Richard F. Celeste, a Democrat, granted 67 clemencies just before leaving office in 1991. Former Govs. Bob Taft and George V. Voinovich each approved less than 10 percent of the clemency requests they received. James A. Rhodes approved clemency in 56 of 320 cases, 17.5 percent, in 1982, his last full year in office. All three were Republicans. See story here.

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