Tuesday, March 12, 2013

From Canada: Legit (And Not So Legit) Questions

At the Canada Free Press, Dan Calabrese asks a legitimate question, one that President Obama invites every day, week, month and year that he neglects the pardon power:
Considering how many pardon applications Obama turns down - and he turns down most of them - what warranted his attention in [Lynn Marie Stanek's] case? You almost have to wonder if someone might have exerted some political influence on Stanek’s behalf ..., 
On the other hand, Calabrese's editorial falls just a little short of asking why anyone should be pardoned at all, save an absolute miscarriage of justice. He notes, for example, that President Obama "does not have a terrible record when it comes to granting presidential pardons" because he (President Obama) has "rejected far more requests than he has granted, and in fact he has been more stingy than George W. Bush." How's that for a ringing endorsement?! You know what is coming next:
To my mind, a person who gets involved with dealing cocaine - and gets convicted of it at the felony level - deserves to deal with the long-term consequences. Cocaine kills people and destroys families. If Stanek didn’t want her actions to haunt her throughout her life, she shouldn’t have dealt cocaine ... she still committed that felony, and I don’t see why she deserves as clean a slate as those who have never committed a crime. 
See editorial here. The Editor of PardonPower has sent the following letter to the Canada Free Press and Mr. Calabrese:
Dan Calabrese asks why president Obama granted a presidential pardon to Lynn Marie Stanek? But, in his struggle to ponder the issue, he recognizes that she committed an offense more than 25 years ago, and has been a productive, law-abiding citizen ever since. What outweighs all of that? Calabrese says, in essence, 1) she deserved to be punished and 2) she did not need a pardon.
On the first point, it should be noted that - whatever Mr. Calabrese’s views are regarding drugs and the law - the federal courts considered her offense worth no more than a mere 6-months in prison. And, of course, it is very likely she did not even serve that. On the second point, the pardon did restore Stanek’s civil rights. Mr. Calabrese may not value the right to vote, the right to serve on a jury, the right to run for public office or the right to own a hunting rifle. He may also think anyone should tolerate restrictions on travel and business partnerships. But I doubt Mr. Calabrese speaks for most persons on these points.
When all is said and done, it is worth noting that the Founding Fathers were very wise to put the pardon power in the Constitution, for people just like Stanek. Hamilton noted (in the Federalist papers) that criminal codes have a natural tendency toward harshness (put down that jumbo drink!) and, consequently, there should be “easy access” to mercy. I certainly understand the attractiveness of the whole eternal damnation / put ‘em in an iron mask / throw away the key routine. And, Lord knows, it makes for great editorial drama. But I don’t really miss monarchy, or monarchical “logic.” God bless America, Ms. Stanek and anyone else like her, that strives for redemption and forgiveness.

P.S. Ruckman, Jr., Editor, PardonPower Blog http://www.pardonpower.com

1 comment:

Sam said...

I would only add that Stanek doesn't have "as clean a slate as those who have never committed a crime." A pardon is neither an expungement nor a statement of innocence, unless expressly granted on that basis. And, of course, if a person was wrongly convicted she presumably does deserve to have as clean a slate as some who has never been convicted of a crime. Which raises a final point: very few of us have never *committed* a crime of some sort; the mere fact that you've successfully dodged a conviction doesn't necessarily confer moral superiority.

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