Saturday, July 7, 2012

Massachusetts: No Mercy

The San Francisco Chronicle observes that, "in his five years as Massachusetts' chief executive, Gov. Deval Patrick has been careful to avoid the political pitfalls that come with the power to grant clemency." How?

Says the Chronicle - without any hint of sarcasm - he has 1) denied "the one petition that has cleared enough hurdles to make it to his desk" 2) he has "taken measures to strengthen the clemency process" 3) he has "revised clemency guidelines to encourage petitioners to seek "other avenues" to clear their criminal records and he has 4) "nominated new parole board members."

The results? Patrick has received over 280 pardon applications and 220 applications for commutation of sentence. So, far, only one commutation application has even made it to the governor's desk. Not a single pardon application has made it that far. Not one. Patrick's predecessor, Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney, received 170 pardon applications and 100 applications for commutation of sentence. 15 recommendations for pardons and 3 for commutations reached his desk. And Romney granted ZERO.

How is that for reform? More change we can believe in!

Indeed, that last pardon in Massachusetts was granted a decade ago! from the Parole Board. In 1970, over 400 were granted. He granted none during his four years as Massachusetts governor.

Noted political scientist, and clemency expert, Austin Sarat says:

"If you grant a commutation or pardon, you may please the person who's the recipient or their family, but there is no political gain to run on the idea that you are interested in using the clemency process ..."

See full story here.

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