Monday, April 15, 2013

Missouri: Gov. Nixon, Where Are You?

Today's St. Louis Post Dispatch has a fine editorial entitled, "Why Hasn't Gov. Jay Nixon Used His Pardon Power?" It notes that Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn stands in "stark contrast" to Wisconsin, Gov. Scott Walker (R) and Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon (D), whose "decisions reek of prioritizing politics over justice." Nixon has granted one commutation of sentence in more than four years. The Post-Dispatch observes the commutation was granted with "no explanation" and was "one of several cases overseen by former special prosecutor Kenny Hulshof on behalf of his boss, then Attorney General Jay Nixon." In addition, "allegations of misconduct have been raised by defense attorneys in several of the cases prosecuted by Mr. Hulshof." So ...
... here in Missouri there is a governor who is well aware of mistakes made in the criminal justice system, mistakes made by his employees in high-profile cases, and he’s found only one instance in which to exercise the very important power he has to pardon or commute. The disconnect is startling, especially when compared to Mr. Quinn’s more reasonable actions in Illinois. 
The editorial also notes that that "secrecy" surrounding the pardon process is a "problem."
Last year, a special American Bar Association report critical of the state’s death penalty protocols pointed to the lack of transparency in the pardon process ... In Missouri, Mr. Nixon can ignore pardons or grant them, with nobody being the wiser as to his reasons for the application of justice or mercy. That’s simply wrong. 
It is also noteworthy that Nixon has denied 212 petitions and almost 3,000 await action. The editorial concluded:
The clemency process is a final and important element of the entire criminal justice system. It should be open. It should matter. It should be taken more seriously. We don’t know Mr. Nixon’s motivation for failure to use one of the most powerful tools at his disposal. Maybe he believes everybody in prison is guilty. Perhaps he’s still planning a run for higher office and wants to cynically take no chance that there are any Willie Hortons on his résumé. Maybe, he simply lacks mercy. We doubt that’s truly the case, but actions speak louder than words.
See full editorial here.


Anonymous said...

Great article , I live in Mo and have not recalled anyone ever getting pardon, but maybe I am working but I know for a fact Gov Nixon does not even try to use his power, maybe before his next election I will go to a town all meeting and ask him WHY..that's a good thought

Anonymous said...

I've had a Pardon recommendation on the Gov. desk for about 3 years now from the Board of Parole and Probations for felony Child Support. I've been waiting patiently,and recently contacted the Attorney that ALLEDGEDLY represented me (Douglass Richards) 16 years ago concerning the waiting process. Since, I've fulfilled my Child Support obligarions, and have been very positively active in my community! He told me to stop checking with the Gov. office, they'll get tired me asking and just flat out deny me! I believe this to be an Extremely Unfair action, for such an important matter! I've also wrote a letter of remorse to the Judge of the case about 10 yaers ago; got no response (Judge Goldman) St. Louis County

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