Showing posts with label Insights. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Insights. Show all posts

Friday, November 26, 2010

Michigan: Former Governor Lobbies for Pardons

Jack Lessenberry of Wayne State University has an editorial in today's Toledo Blade regarding former Governor Bill Milliken, "Michigan's longest-serving governor. " The piece says Milliken "usually doesn't give his successors advice these days unless they ask for it." The sole exception would be in the matter of "dozens of women in Michigan prisoners who he is convinced don't belong behind bars." Lessenberry says these women "are no threat to society," but mostly "battered and abused women who were unjustly convicted or got sentences far harsher than they deserved." Thus Milliken has joined with the Michigan Women's Justice and Clemency Project in seeking clemency on their behalf.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Clemency in the Canadian Context

Lesley Atkinson is the Communications Officer at Canadian Pardon Service, an organization that assists Canadians with criminal records in obtaining pardons, U.S. Entry Waivers, and File Destruction Requests. Her degree in Psychology from the University of Guelph piqued her interest in criminology, and from there she began working at Canadian Pardon Service. In addition to other duties, she is responsible for keeping the organization and clients up to date on any important legislative changes that may affect them. In this post, Atkinson will discuss a topic with which she has a good deal of experience and expertise; Canadian criminal records, pardons, and the Criminal Records Act. There are many differences in Canadian criminal records and pardons (when they are compared to the United States) so this piece will provide a general outline of the criminal record and pardon system in Canada, as well as some recent legislative developments.

Criminal Records in Canada

Over 3 million Canadian criminal records are held at the Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC), a database that is maintained by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). A criminal record is held in the database until the individual reaches at least 80, and in some cases, 100 years of age. The CPIC database is available to all law enforcement agencies in Canada as well as the FBI, U.S. Customs, and Interpol. One difference between American and Canadian criminal records is that in Canada they are only available to law enforcement agencies and cannot be viewed by the public because of privacy laws, whereas they are public knowledge in the United States. However, by conducting a criminal record search it is possible for the public to verify the existence of a Canadian criminal record, although the specific details cannot be viewed. Because of increasing security and employer liability concerns, more criminal record searches are conducted every day. As a result, many Canadians with criminal records encounter difficulty getting a job, travelling, volunteering, adopting, and even applying for citizenship. However, it is possible for a criminal record to be ‘permanently removed and sealed’ from the CPIC database, by obtaining a pardon.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Insights: Dear Mr. President, Yes You Can

 Mark W. Osler is Professor of Law, Baylor University, where he has taught since 2000. He is a graduate of the Yale Law School and former federal prosecutor (1995-2000). Professor Osler is an expert on sentencing and, among other things, his writings focus on the problem of inflexibility in sentencing and corrections and the role of mercy in a system that places so much emphasis on retribution. Professor Osler has testified before the U.S. Sentencing Commission (2004) and in Congress (2009). He recently served as lead counsel in Spears v. United States, 129 S. Ct. 840 (2009) in which the Court held that sentencing judges can categorically reject the 100:1 ratio between crack and powder cocaine in the federal sentencing guidelines.

PardonPower: Tell us what we need to know about the "Dear Mr. President, Yes You Can" project and describe the role that you play in it?

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Insights: Battered Women and Clemency in Michigan

  Carol Jacobsen is an award-winning social documentary artist whose works in video and photography address issues of women's criminalization and censorship. Her art has been exhibited and screened at venues worldwide. In addition to her teaching responsibilities in art and women's studies at the University of Michigan, Jacobsen serves as Director of the Michigan Women's Justice and Clemency Project (formerly the Michigan Battered Women's Clemency Project). In that capacity, she advocates for the human rights of women prisoners and seeks freedom for women wrongly incarcerated. Her projects have been sponsored by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, COYOTE, Women's Prison Association of New York, the American Civil Liberties Association, and other non-profit organizations. PardonPower asked Prof. Jacobsen about her work:

PardonPower: Was there a particular event, or series of events which led up to the creation of the Michigan Battered Women's Clemency Project and/or how did you come to be associated with the Project?

Friday, April 18, 2008

Insights: Tamara Holder on Pardons, Illinois, the Governor

 Tamara N. Holder interned with the Cook County State's Attorney's Office (Chicago) and Miramax Films (Los Angeles) before graduating from The John Marshall Law School. As principal of The Law Firm of Tamara N. Holder, LLC, her practice focuses on criminal defense, expungement, racial discrimination, police brutality, public policy, and pro bono work. Holder founded The Rainbow PUSH Expungement Clinic, where she meets regularly with individuals to review criminal records and provide advice on expungements and other legal issues. She exposed improper employment practices in the railroad industry regarding those with criminal records and spearheaded a Congressional inquiry and a hearing before the Congressional Committee of Homeland Security in February of 2007. In July of 2007, Holder testified as an expert witness before the Congressional Committee of Transportation, Sub-Committee of Maritime and Infrastructure. In the past, she has met privately with Governor Rod Blagojevich on the issue of pardons and Attorney General Lisa Madigan on criminal sentencing and expungement laws. Last month, she organized a "We Need Pardons" rally at the Thompson Center in Chicago. PardonPower had these questions for Ms. Holder:

PardonPower: First, how would you explain the difference between pardon and expungement and their relationship to each other in the State of Illinois?

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Insights: New Post Category

PardonPower will soon feature a new category of posts entitled: INSIGHTS. For these posts, I will have lawyers, judges, scholars and media persons respond to a series of questions regarding some issues(s) addressed in PardonPower posts. The questions will aim to draw out opinion and insight and wide latitude will be given to those who are kind enough to respond. While I will certainly welcome responses from readers, I will not be commenting (agreeing or disagreeing) with these posts. Another goal, of course, will be to provide timely information. For that reason, we could probably not have a more outstanding beginning.

The PardonPower INSIGHTS posts will begin with responses from Tamara N. Holder, a prominent attorney in the Chicagoland area, who will share insights regarding clemency processes in Illinois and recent events (e.g., the pardons of Chandra Gill and Sharon Latiker) which have drawn attention to the governor's pardon power. You will not want to miss it. So, stay tuned.

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