Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Ohio: Kasich's Old School Hard Line

Kasich: Merciless
The Columbus Dispatch is one of the few papers in the country that faithfully monitors the pardon power as used - or not used - by the governors of the state. In part, this is because the state has made the process more transparent. Now, it is reported:
In his first four years in office, Gov. John Kasich used his executive clemency power more sparingly than any other Ohio governor in the past three decades. He granted 66 of 1,521 requests, about 4.4 percent of 1,521 non-death-penalty cases he received and acted upon from 2011 to 2014, according to information obtained by The Dispatch under a public-records request. That makes him the most conservative with clemency of any Ohio governor going back to the 1980s, when the state began tracking gubernatorial clemency. 
These days, well, that is the kind of merciless stance that has "potential presidential candidate" written all over it. In Ohio:
Clemency is a unique executive power of Ohio governors, broad but defined by law. The governor can halt or postpone executions, commute or reduce a sentence so that a prisoner can be freed now or in the future, and grant pardons, erasing a past criminal record. 
Other interesting data: Former Gov. Ted Strickland (D) approved 20 percent of 1,615 clemency requests he handled between 2007 and 2011. Republicans George V. Voinovich (1991-98) and Bob Taft (1999-2007) each approved less than 10 percent of their clemency requests:
Democrat Richard F. Celeste, governor from 1983 to 1991, used his clemency power most liberally ...  Celeste’s actions caused an uproar, and the clemency process was legally challenged. The General Assembly changed the law to require governors to have a recommendation from the Ohio Parole Board before making any clemency decision. The governor doesn’t have to agree with the parole board, but merely have a board recommendation in hand. 
Governor Kasich is reported to have "differed" with the board in 23 cases just last year. See full story here.

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