Monday, September 9, 2013

Indiana: Paucity of Mercy and Deserved Scrutiny

Mitch Daniels: Short on Mercy
This blog has long noted that regular, consistent use of the clemency power can have two general effects 1) it can educate the citizenry re the routine nature of the power, making them less susceptible to sensational media characterizations, and it follows that 2) the media are less likely to even attempt such characterizations. That is to say, a little less effort will be made to manufacture "controversy" by drawing tenuous conclusions based on strings of plausible, but highly remote and indirect factors, linked by imaginations desperate for a "story."

Take former Governor of Indiana, Mitch Daniels, for example. He granted a mere 62 pardons in 8 years. More than 200 applications came in, and his State's Board Parole Board recommended clemency for others that Daniels denied. Now, it is discovered that, just before he left office, Daniels
... pardoned Anthony Nefouse [the] nephew of a [high] school classmate; his uncle had contributed $13,000 to Daniels' campaigns. And a former Daniels administration cabinet member submitted the petition and testified at the pardon hearing. Nefouse, now 37, pleaded guilty in 1997 to conspiracy to deal in cocaine, a Class B felony, and received a 12-year suspended sentence with six years of probation. [The] felony conviction meant he couldn't volunteer and participate in some of his sons' activities. It also prevented him from being certified as a financial planner or obtaining a real estate license. 
Daniels has admitted that he "recognized" the clemency applicant's name, but it is reported that he "wasn't aware of the contributions." Indeed, Daniels claims that fact that he knew Nefouse actually "worked against him" (discuss among yourselves). Says the Chronicle:
Nefouse's felony charge was one of the highest-level offenses for which Daniels granted pardons. Only 11 of his 62 pardons were drug-related. Only three — including the Nefouse case — involved selling drugs. 
So, there you have it.  A governor stingy with clemency, grants a pardon to an acquaintance, the relative of a campaign contributor, right before he leaves office. Was clemency deserved? Perhaps. But it seems fair enough to wonder, what made this application more special than 150 or so others? Was it really the most outstanding of that bunch? No one else was more deserving? Really? See Chronicle article here.

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