Monday, March 4, 2013

Saunders: Furlough the OPA!

At the San Francisco chronicle, Debra Saunders notes:
In the context of sequestration cuts - as the Department of Justice warns it will have to cut $338 million from the prison budget, which could lead to the furlough of 37,000 prison employees for two weeks and lockdowns to reduce violence ...
But, when Saunders considers Obama's paltry clemency record, a mere 39 pardons and 1 commutation of sentence - from many thousands of applications, and in the shadow of over-crowded prisons, packed with first-time, non-violent offenders who were hit with mandatory minimum sentences - she wonders why Obama is so invisible, irrelevant. Is it because he "has so much on his plate"? Says Saunders:
Nonsense. The Department of Justice has staff members whose job is to review clemency applications. It is their job to vet petitions and recommend commutations for worthy inmates. If they do their job right and save their recommendations for inmates with no violent history and good prison records, there is little political downside. But if the president doesn't want to take any risk in the exercise of mercy, he should be honest and furlough the pardon staff permanently. Then, at least, the president could spare federal prosecutors and counterterrorism operatives from furloughs.
Sequestration as a vehicle for long-overdue reform? How absolutely, positively delicious! See full editorial here.

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