Monday, August 8, 2016

Osler and Luna at Cato

Weldon Angelos
Mark Osler and Eric Luna write, in part, for the Cato Institute:

"Recently, we stood in a backyard eating barbecue with a man named Weldon Angelos. He was only a few weeks out of federal prison, having been freed some four decades early from a 55-year sentence for selling a small amount of marijuana while possessing firearms ...

...Weldon had been the poster boy of criminal justice reform for liberals and conservatives alike. His liberation is cause for celebration for those who believed the punishment did not fit the crime ...

 ... In Weldon’s case, the law compelled a 55-year sentence. It didn’t matter that Weldon was a first-time offender with no adult record or that he was the father of three young children. Nor did it matter that he never brandished or used the firearms and never caused or threatened any violence or injury.... Most of all, it did not matter that the sentencing judge — a conservative Bush appointee known for being tough on crime — believed that the punishment was “unjust, cruel, and irrational.” Ultimately, the judge was bound not only by the mandatory minimum statute but also the Supreme Court’s jurisprudence, which largely acquiesces to prosecutors’ charging decisions while providing almost no check on excessive prison terms. Absent a doctrinal reversal by the Supreme Court (don’t hold your breath), any meaningful safeguard against misapplication of mandatory minimums will have to come in the form of legislation from Congress or from the president through the application of the clemency power.

... Unfortunately, the federal clemency system is also dysfunctional. Weldon’s petition for clemency was filed in November 2012 — and it then sat, unresolved one way or another, for three-and-a-half years. The support for the petition was unprecedented, spanning activists, academics and experts from every political camp imaginable. While Weldon is not wealthy and could not afford high-priced lobbyists or attorneys, the facts of his case drove the story onto the pages of leading news outlets. Yet nothing happened. Even when the Obama administration launched the “Clemency Project 2014” and Weldon’s case was accepted into that program, he languished in prison as the petition slogged through the seven vertical levels of review any successful clemency case must navigate. Clemency is meant for cases like Weldon’s, where the requirements of the law exceed the imperatives of justice. The fact that a case like his cannot receive clemency from an administration dedicated to expanding the use of this presidential prerogative lays bare the root problem we face — too much process and bureaucracy coursing through a Department of Justice that bears a built-in conflict of interest."

See full post here.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

what makes all this so difficult is why is it designed that someone who desires a pardon to lift civil disabilities have to go to the president of the united states. I understand several hundred years ago this was adequate for the population but not this day and time....the system itself needs serious updating.
One would think the 3 major reasons for seeking a pardon would be employment purposes, regain the right to vote/hold office and 3rd right to regain use of firearms.
Why not bring back the ATF and fund that branch to take on applications for those seeking to restore their firearm rights.I would bet this would help with some of the back log of pending pardons waiting on the president.

or set up parameters like some states have. After sentence 10 yrs have passed with no other issues or brush with the law your civil rights are restored.....screw up again and your done....EVERYONE DESRVES ONE CHANCE !

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