Friday, January 23, 2015

Missouri: Law School Student Schools Frank Bruni

A third-year law student, Erica J. Mazzotti, has a fine editorial in the St. Louis Dispatch re clemency. She notes that, aside from 9 pardons Governor Nixon granted last month, he has granted only one other request for clemency since he took office in 2009.

Mazzotti notes that the "longstanding tradition" of pardoning "is not just an act of mercy." It entails a "gubernatorial responsibility" to:
... correct injustices within the criminal justice system, including sentences that are significantly disproportionate between genders, offenders who are treated as criminals when in reality they themselves are victims of abuse, and rehabilitated inmates who spend decades incarcerated when they pose no societal threat. 
[Memo to Frank Bruni: Clue up!] Mazzotti notes the Community Coalition for Clemency, represents over a dozen women who "are victims of serious domestic and/or sexual abuse, had no prior history of violent crime, and in some cases received harsher sentences than similarly situated males."

She also discusses a Sentencing Project, study entitled, "Fewer Prisoners, Less Crime: A Tale of Three States” which found that "during the periods of decarceration in New York, New Jersey and California, violent crime rates fell at a greater rate in those three states compared to nationwide rates." Unfortunately, she says, Missouri’s rate of incarceration "continues to rise and as of 2013 is 32 percent higher than the national average."  See full editorial here.

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