Tuesday, December 24, 2013

In Praise of Debra Saunders (And All Such Journalists!)

We have had Clarence Aaron on our Pardon Watch List for some time now, and are quite pleased to remove his name - now that his ridiculously long prison sentence has finally been commuted. But long before there was ever a Pardon Power Blog, the San Francisco Chronicle-based editorialist Debra J. Saunders saw the injustice of Aaron's case, and began a series of pleas /arguments on his behalf. Year after year, she penned editorials, explaining the facts of the case and the sentence, arguing the case was indicative of larger, systematic problems and pleading with the President and DOJ officials to exercise the power of pardon.

The pen may or may not be mightier than the sword, but that is to say nothing of the noble nature of the cause, or the effort. The Editor of this blog was able see / experience such an effort from Adam Liptak of the New York Times, who took the time and care to report on the inexcusable behavior of one governor (Jan Brewer) in one state (Arizona) in a single case (William Macumber). Readers can see the results in the book Manifest Injustice, by Barry Siegel.

There seems to be very little doubt that Clarence Aaron's story would make for a compelling book, and Debra J. Saunders would have to be part of that story.  Her effort was persistent, unrelenting, admirable and compelling. The world of journalism would benefit from more people like her. Here (below) are links to some of the editorials Saunders wrote on Aaron's behalf:

Dec. 2001: In America, punishment should fit the crime
Dec. 2002: Nine years ago, Aaron sentenced to life without parole
Nov. 2004: Fourth Christmas season writing about Aaron
Nov. 2005: Quality of Bush pardons lacking
Nov. 2007: Is there mercy in America for Clarence Aaron?
Nov. 2008: The power of the pardon
Nov. 2009: Politics of the pardon
Dec. 2012: Who will pardon the pardon attorney?
July 2013: Obama could have been Clarence Aaron
Dec. 2013: Obama's turkey of a pardon record
Dec 2013: Department of Injustice

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