Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Kentucky: Wrong Way to do the Right Thing

Steve Beshear did not take the pardon power "lightly" as governor because individuals "deserve a second chance."

Or, so he says. The cynic might suspect the case was otherwise.

Over the last years, Beshear received well over 3,000 applications for pardon. According to the Lexington Herald Leader, he and his staff reviewed them all "over several months." No way to know where / when those "several months" were located in his administration, but we do know this: until tonight, in his "final hours" as governor, Beshear did not grant single pardon.

For eight long years, no one - not a single person - got a "second chance."

Just before he left office, Beshear found just enough time to grant 197 pardons and 6 commutation of sentence.

What an awful thing. Once again, the pardon power will be viewed as a last-minute consideration at best, among the very lowest priorities of executives. Once again, the pardon power will be viewed more as kind of barely tolerable political stunt than a normalized, fair, deliberative approximation of justice. Once again, pardon recipients will be viewed with a modicum of suspicion, as the beneficiaries of political "gifts" they may or may not actually deserve.

Beshear's talk - on this front - was impressive. His behavior was detestable. The sooner his type vanishes from the political landscape, the better. Justice (as well as the constitutional role of check and balances) should be a priority not a matter of neglect, or a mere after-thought.

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