Thursday, December 24, 2015

Rehabilitation. Redemption. Mercy: The REAL Story

Today, California Governor Jerry Brown granted 91 pardons. He has now granted well over a thousand. Among the recipients today, one Robert Downey, Jr. According to the Los Angeles Times:
Downey has a long history of problems with drugs and the law, including repeated arrests in 1996. In June 1996, he was pulled over by police in Malibu for speeding. They found him under the influence, with a gun, cocaine and heroin in the truck. Then in July, the then-31-year-old actor turned up in the house of a neighbor, passed out in a spare bedroom ... in 1999, [he] was sentenced to three years in state prison. He was released one year later, and three months after that, was arrested in a Palm Springs hotel room where cocaine also was found. He bounced between jail and rehabilitation clinics for several years ... In total, the actor served 15 months behind bars, and in 2002, he completed his parole.
Now, everyone who is paying any attention at all knows Downey has turned a big corner. A Los Angeles County Superior Court judge concludes that he has since “lived an honest and upright life, exhibited good moral character, and conducted himself as a law-abiding citizen.” The Goevernor recently inducted him into the California Hall of Fame, alongside Charles M. Schulz. Here is the REAL story:

Rehabilitation - It's real.

Redemption - Can be earned.

Forgiveness - Should happen, regularly.

The Editor of this blog has informed journalists for years that the regular use of clemency actually decreases the possibility of "controversy." The response is, very often, silence. They just don't seem to get it - or want to get it.

If Governor Brown, pardons a celebrity, a well "connected" chap, or donor, so what? First, celebrities, well "connected" chaps and donors can be deserving of mercy, just as well as anyone else. They are not (or should not be) disqualified from justice. Second, Brown has not been a merciless jerk. On the other hand, when Schwarzenegger shuns checks and balances, then uses last-minute clemency to favor a "connected" son, it stinks to high heaven. Indeed, the only thing worse than a consistently merciless jerk, is a consistently merciless jerk who grants corrupt pardons at midnight (see Bill Clinton).  Mark Wahlberg may very well deserve mercy, but, in the state he is in (Massachusetts), pardons happen about as often as lightening strikes in the same place 3 times in 5 seconds. It's probably not going to happen. And, if it does, it will be fiercely criticized - as it should be. See story here.

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