Sunday, December 18, 2016

1921: Gov. Goodrich, R-Indiana, Speaks to Obama

Would that President Obama would read James P. Goodrich's excellent 1921 journal article, "Use and Abuse of the Pardon Power" (full text here). Goodrich was a former Republican governor of Indiana and served in the administrations of Herbert Hoover and Warren G, Harding. Below are some snippets: 

... While the code of Hammurabi, with its long line of statutory crimes, is silent as to the pardoning power and gives no such authority to the king, yet we know that it was one of the kingly prerogatives ...

The Mosaic law nowhere gives the kings or judges the right to pardon, yet we know that King David exercised the right ...

The judicial field is circumscribed by the regularity and rigidity of its proceedings. The business of the judge is strictly to apply the law. The business of the executive under our constitution is not to make or apply a law, but to relieve the criminal from the unjust application of the law ...

The necessity of the executive having the power to relieve persons convicted of crime from the consequences of their acts was clearly recognized by the makers and builders of our federal constitution ...

It is just as much an abuse of the pardoning power for the executive to refuse to grant clemency when the facts justify such action for fear of adverse and usually ignorant and thoughtless criticism as it is to grant clemency because of political influence or personal pressure ...

When we realize that more than thirty-five per cent of criminal cases are reversed on appeal and how often innocent men suffer because of their poverty; when we know from the records that ninety-six and one-half per cent of first offenders paroled by the executive observe their parole and earn their discharge; when we see how often the great burden of the punishment, the shame, disgrace and suffering falls upon the innocent family, it will bring to us a clearer understanding of the responsibility that rests upon the executive in the exercise of the pardoning power ...

The very purpose of lodging the pardoning power in the executive is to relieve exceptional situations where it is to be presumed that the legislature passing the law might have fixed a different penalty had it been. familiar with the facts ...

After nearly four years of experience and a careful study of the whole question, I am fully convinced that the public interest is best served, the reform of the prisoner more certainly attained and the welfare of the family and the immediate community advanced by a liberal but discriminating use of the pardoning power than by its harsh and restricted use. Mistakes will be made, men occasionally will be released who should have served their full time, but for every mistake so made scores of men will be restored to society never again ta transgress the law, many families united and made happy, the just demands of the law satisfied and society benefited by such a policy ...

If the law fell with equal weight upon everyone, if high and low, rich and poor who are guilty of its infraction, alike suffered its penalty, there might be some reason for insisting that the guilty should in all cases pay the full penalty of the law; but too often in this state I have seen the law applied with unequal weight, seen men of high estate surrounded by influential friends violate the law with impunity and go unwhipped of justice, seen public officials charged with the execution of a high trust violate the law, betray their trust, embezzle public funds and when discovered, because the official or his bondsmen made restitution, be permitted to go unpunished, while men in places of power and influence have shielded them. At the same time men who have committed some petty offense, but are without money or influential friends to protect them, have the full penalty of the law inflicted on them. It is most difficult through our local courts and juries to secure the prosecution and conviction of men of high social, financial and political standing who violate the law ...

After a careful survey of the record made during the past four years in my own state, during the trying years of the war and the unsettled period that followed, observing the effect upon the persons and the families of those to whom clemency has been extended, I have no hesitation in saying that more errors have been committed where clemency has been refused than where it has been extended.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

President Obama just granted more than 140 commutations and beat George W. Bush's pardon record.


I guess he read your tweets ;)

Anonymous said...

I mean George H.W. Bush. Sorry about that.

blogger templates | Make Money Online