Showing posts with label Alabama. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Alabama. Show all posts

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Alabama: See Texas

Jonathan Haggerty, Koch Fellow and Technology Policy Research Associate at the R Street Institute, says Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley's initiative to consolidate the state’s 14 prisons into 4 mega-prisons will cost taxpayers "about $800 million." Haggerty guesses this is not the most "cost effective way" to handle "Alabama’s disastrous criminal justice system."

Instead Alabama "should consider an alternative model for reform pioneered by Texas." There, legislators reconsidered "placing first-time, nonviolent drug offenders in prison — making them more likely to adapt to the hardened prison culture and reoffend once out on release." Instead, such persons were allowed users to "forego prison if they agreed to comprehensive supervision, drug testing, and treatment."

Texas also focused on replacing "severe sentencing" for "technical violations" of probation or parole with graduated sanctions and "rehabilitation programs for drug users and the mentally ill." The results? Texas has "saved taxpayers over $3 billion, and crime rates have plummeted to a 49-year low." Recidivism "is dropping and the state has been able to close three prisons." Haggerty writes:
The financial and human consequences of a prison and jail system teeming with bodies prompted Texas to make comprehensive changes, and it caught on like wildfire throughout the country. “Utah, Alabama and Nebraska have all passed comprehensive sentencing and corrections reforms; West Virginia took steps to reduce incarceration of juveniles in their state for misdemeanor or status offenses, and Alaska began major work on a second wave of reforms," according to Texas Rep. Jerry Madden. 
See full story here.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Alabama: Siegelman Has No Application for Clemency!

Tim Lockette of the Anniston Star has followed the case of former Gov. Don Siegelman for some time now. He reports "more than 78,000 people have signed petitions asking for Siegelman’s release from Oakdale Federal Correctional Institution in Louisiana, where he has lived for most of the years since his 2006 conviction on bribery charges."

In addition, "more than 100 former state attorneys genera" have written a letter to President Obama urging his release.

Amazingly, however, Lockette has learned that Siegelman "has no official clemency application on file with the White House." That seems like a very odd strategy. See story here.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Alabama: Siegelman at Last?

Josh Moon of the Montgomery Adviser says former Alabama Governor (1999-2003) Don Siegelman "shouldn’t be in prison at all" and it is an "absolute travesty" and "an embarrassment" to the justice system and the state that he is.

Siegelman, "a popular figure in the state" was indicted on federal bribery charges in 2004. Moon says the judge called it “the most unfounded case” he had ever presided over. But the feds came back with "basically the same charges" in front of a different judge. Moon says Siegelman was "eventually convicted (sort of)" for accepting a bribe (two $250,000 donations) but - in the wake of Citizens United - "there is no question" that the money "was a donation to the lottery fund ... none of it went to Siegelman personally."

Moon notes "more than 100 former state attorneys general" have signed a letter "asking the Supreme Court to review the case." So, he says, "It’s past time for President Obama to pardon Don Siegelman." See full editorial - with many more details of the case - here.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Alabama: Toobin on (for) Siegelman

Jeffrey Toobin first made his mark on the presidential pardon radar by repeatedly insisting that George W. Bush would have to "pardon" Scooter Libby, or Libby would have to march off to prison. It was great for the purposes of dramatic commentary, but certainly didn't say much positive about Toobin's understanding of the pardon power, or research ability. See commentary here and here.

Now Toobin is "back," in the New Yorker, arguing that President Obama "should" do a "risky" challenge by "commuting the prison sentence of Don Siegelman:
... the former governor of Alabama. Siegelman, a Democrat, served a single term in office, from 1999 to 2003, in the last days before Alabama turned into an overwhelmingly Republican state. He’s spent the subsequent decade dealing with the fallout from the case that landed him in prison—a case that, at its core, is about a single campaign contribution. 
As it happens, the contribution was half a million dollars, and it was "to support the pro-lottery campaign" that was rejected by voters. Siegelman then reappointed the donor to the State's Certificate of Need Review Board (which regulates health care in the state).

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Alabama: Scottsboro Pardons!

USA Today is reporting that Alabama's parole board has voted "to grant posthumous pardons in the Scottsboro Boys 1931 rape case."  It is reported that the Board "unanimously approved" a petition for clemency "after a short hearing in Montgomery."
Last spring, the Alabama Legislature passed a law to allow the parole board to issue posthumous pardons for convictions at least 75 years old. The law was specifically designed to allow the pardon of the Scottsboro Boys to go forward. In October, a group of scholars petitioned the Board of Pardons and Paroles to grant pardons to the men. The petition was endorsed by the judges and district attorneys of the counties where the initial trials took place. Under Alabama law, pardons can only be granted to those who have felony convictions on their record. The petitioners had initially hoped the board would review the status of each of the defendants. 
See story here.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

AP: Finally Catching on to Alabama

On the 24th of last month, we noted that the governor of Alabama had not, in fact, "pardoned" the Scottsboro boys - despite a wealth of newspaper / web headlines suggesting that he did (see our post here). It appears now that the Phillip Rawls of the Associated Press is catching up to us (see article here). Rawls reports Alabama is "still working" on it. Indeed.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Alabama: Deciphering the Scottsboro "Pardon"

The Scottsboro Nine
It makes perfect sense that, as the pardon power dries up at the state and federal level, symbolic pardoning might become all the rage. Symbolic pardons free no one. They relieve no punishment. They solve no real - much less "pressing" - problem. Yes, they might very well have the potential to make positive, much-needed, profound public statements about law and criminal justice. Pardoning O. Henry, for example, might educate Americans on a point that certainly needs to be taught these days: people can change, rehabilitation is real, mercy can be both deserved and earned! Every person who violates the law is not Willie Horton!

More typically, posthumous pardons are truisms (reinforcing already well-accepted points/notions) or merely making those who grant them feel better about themselves and - more importantly - endearing them to potential blocs of voters who are, evidently  quite easily impressed. Why, if politicians could feel the same passion about real pardons - pardons for deserving people, who are actually alive, and suffering - the world would be a much, much better place. Once upon a time, the Federalist papers argued there should be "easy access" to such forgiveness. That hasn't really worked out too well.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Watch List: Siegelman, Mr. Obama?

Much has been written about the Don Siegelman case, but Bennett L. Gershman has made one of the better efforts at Huffington Post. In Gershman's mind, the question is not so much Why is Siegelman in prison? as it is, Why was he prosecuted and jailed at all? Why? Because:
Of all the abusive, vindictive, and politically-driven prosecutions by the U.S. Department of Justice, the prosecution of Don Siegleman stands at the top. Over a hundred Attorneys General from both political parties have condemned the legality of his prosecution. The House Judiciary Committee has documented the partisan cabal between the Bush White House and the Justice Department to take down Siegelman and destroy his career. Commentary by journalists, academics, and disinterested observers has uniformly decried the legal and ethical irregularities that contaminated his prosecution and blackened the reputation of the Justice Department. 
Yet, to date, President Obama has "refused" to grant Siegelman a pardon or commute his seven-year sentence.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Watch List: Siegelman's Pardon Strategy

Tim Lockette of the Anniston Star has written an informative artilce re the current status of the search for clemency by former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman. And the news is more than a little surprising. Siegelman is apparently seeking something like a commutation of sentence and a full presidential pardon at the same time! More specifically, he is seeking a commutation of sentence on the basis of innocence! As Lockette reports, Siegelman's advisors are "still struggling with the fact that the commutation application seems to require an admission of guilt."

To add to the freakishly long odds of accomplishing this goal, Siegelman currently has no application for clemency in the Department of Justice! Why he would have no application in the mix as we went through the last December of the fourth year of the President's first term is quite the mystery.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Siegelman at the DNC

Former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman - long on our Pardon Watch List - is on his way to a 69-month stint in federal prison. But, first, he is stopping by the Democratic National Convention! Yes, at the convention center, Siegelman told reporters that is "going to try to get a commutation of sentence and eventually a pardon.”

How is that for optimism?

Siegelman explained further that he is not lobbying the President directly, just yet. But he is looking around for contacts, people who "will be able to act" in his "stead" with the president, "when the time is right." He says, “and that is after the election and not now.” For now, he is content "just to talk" to people who "have an understanding" about this case and who also may "have some bearing on the outcome of the pardon or the outcome of a commutation.”

See full story here.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Watch List: McNair, Again

Fresh off of the news that the DOJ's OPA is being investigated for - among other things - discriminating against African-American clemency applicants, a lawyer has announced that he will file a second request for clemency on behalf of Chris McNair. The Birmingham News reports a plan to November (December being a hot month for grants). The 86-year-old McNair is serving a five-year prison sentence for a bribery conviction, but has only served just over a year. McNair is also seeking a remission of $425,000 he owes in restitution. Sees story here.

Friday, June 22, 2012

"No" to Siegelman!

The Alabama Press-Register says that, "if Gov. Don Siegelman goes back to prison and for how long should be decided by a judge, not President Barack Obama." Which is to say, Obama should not use the pardon power on Siegelman's behalf.

Siegelman was convicted of giving a former HealthSouth chief executive a seat on a health care regulatory board in exchange for a $500,000 donation. He served about nine months of a sentence of seven years and four months before being released while he appealed the conviction. Two charges have been thrown out, reducing the original sentence by about a year. Now there will be a  resentencing hearing.

But the Press-Register say:
If President Obama were to pardon Mr. Siegelman, he would be sending several bad messages to Americans. The president would be disregarding the verdict of a jury who sat through weeks of testimony and deliberated extensively before finding Mr. Siegelman and Mr. Scrushy guilty. A trial by a jury of one’s peers is a cornerstone of the American criminal justice system, and the separation of powers among the executive, judicial and legislative branches of government is part of the foundation of this country. Likewise, the president would be overriding the judge, who is best qualified to decide how much more time Mr. Siegelman should have to serve. A pardon for Mr. Siegelman would be purely political, telling Americans that political party affiliation and political influence outweigh criminal conduct ... the justice system is supposed to be impartial and blind as to who the defendant is. President Obama should leave this one alone and let the justice system do its work. 
See editorial here.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Watch List: Siegelman Back to Prison

The Associated Press reports "some" of the supporters of Don Siegelman want President Obama to pardon him, so as to prevent the former Democratic Alabama governor from returning to prison. Siegelman was convicted of bribery in 2006, but is out of prison on an appeal bond. Former Democratic Party executive committee member Pam Miles is said to be "encouraging supporters to write Obama asking the president to pardon Siegelman." She says she "can't bear the thought' of Siegelman returning to prison. See story here.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Alabama: McNair to Prison? or Pardon?

Chris McNair is on his way to prison. The hope now? A presidential pardon! See story here.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Argument: Old. Harmless. Above the Law

In this piece, an author argues that clemency should be given to 85-year-old Chris McNair because McNair is "sick" and "old" and will not physically harm anyone else. Otherwise, the author says there is just no "purpose" in sending McNair to prison - the felonies and abuses of power he committed while supervising the Jefferson County sewers notwithstanding. The supposedly "disgraced" McNair and his lawyer could not agree more. That is exactly why they also see no reason not to give both clemency and erase a $450,000 restitution fee. It appears remorse and repentance are not in McNair's play book. And what good is sucking half a million dollars out of a proud, unrepentant, former public-official and felon who isn't going to hurt anyone! See complete story here.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Alabama: Commutation Sought for McNair

John Archibald of the Birmingham News reports there is an effort to get a commutation of sentence from President Obama for Chris McNair, who took in $850,000 of bribes from contractors when he oversaw a sewer system. The U.S. Pardon Attorney confirms that a formal application for clemency has been filed in the Department of Justice. Archibald also says U.S. attorneys have met "at least twice in recent weeks" to "discuss the request" of the 85-year old McNair. See full story here.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Alabama: Pardon Revisited

Lance Griffin of the Dothan Eagle has written a great little article on former Alabama Attorney General Richmond Flowers (D) who also ran for governor in 1966. Flowers was convicted on federal charges of extorting payments from life insurance companies in return for being allowed to do business in the state in 1969. He was sentenced to 8 years in prison and fined $10,000. But Flowers claimed the charges were "politically motivated" and served less than two years before being paroled in 1974. Griffin reports that Flowers was pardoned by Jimmy Carter in 1978. This can be commonly seen in obituaries and, as a result, on various web pages. But PardonPower has a copy of the clemency warrant. It is clearly signed in June of 1980, the last year of Carter's term. According to Griffin, Flowers’ application for pardon listed as references: Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey, Sen. Ted Kennedy and then-Attorney General of Minnesota Walter Mondale, Alabama football coach Paul “Bear” Bryant and others. See full story here.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Watch List: Siegelman Speaks!

The Huffington Post is featuring an interview with former Alabama governor Don Siegelman, a member of our Pardon Watch List. See interview here.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Alabama: Pardon, Parole, Whatever.

In July of 2006, John Faulk was drinking and driving a speedboat in a restricted area and, as a consequence, hurt eight people and killed one Michael Haslam (who was sitting on a pontoon boat). Faulk's unsuccessful defense was that he consumed a large amount of alcohol after the accident, while waiting for the police to arrive on the scene. On Monday, a pastor, college pals, friends and family requested leniency from Judge Ben Fuller. Faulk's mother put is this way: "Please give him a pardon or parole or whatever. We don't want him to go to prison or jail." Fuller responded with a 30-month sentence split so that Faulk will serve 18 months in jail for the most serious charge and a year concurrently for misdemeanor assault charges. The victim's wife says the sentence is too light and remains annoyed that Faulk has never even apologized or expressed remorse. See full story here.

Friday, March 21, 2008

The President: Another Perspective on Siegelman

Over at the American Spectator, Mark G. Michaelsen suggests that, if a Democrat is elected President of the United States in 2008, former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman "might be pardoned." Michaelson even thinks there "might even be pressure" on a Democrats President to appoint Siegelman "as a federal judge or a U.S. Attorney." The article suggests "journalists and Democrats" have "concocted an 'inside job' theory" or "conspiratorial" view about Siegelman's conviction which includes everything "liberals" hate (Bush, Rove, Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, Abramoff, etc.). Michaelson finds it odd, however, that "there are never calls to spring corporate executive Richard Scrushy, who is thought to have bilked investors." See Spectator article here. PardonPower has addressed this case before in the following posts: 1/11 Presidential Pardon "Watch List". 3/4 The President: Siegelman and Scrushy?, 3/11 The President: 60 Minutes Report

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