Showing posts with label Maine. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Maine. Show all posts

Friday, May 26, 2017

Maine: 17 Commutations of Sentence

McClatchy report Gov. Paul LePage has granted "conditional commutation orders for 17 prisoners through a plan that he says will help offenders get jobs and won't threaten public safety." The idea is applauded by the ACLU of Maine and "state prisoner advocates."

Some Republicans see it as a "soft on crime" ploy and "part of an effort to close a long-embattled Washington County minimum-security prison." McClatchy reports:
Alison Beyea, executive director of the ACLU of Maine, called LePage's decision "a positive step toward ending Maine's over-reliance on incarceration." Her group notes that census figures show that Maine's state prison population has increased nearly 300 percent since 1980, while the overall state population has grown 18 percent. "In Maine, like the rest of the nation, we lock up too many people for too long, at too great a human and fiscal cost," she said. She added, "in order for this effort to be truly successful though, we will need a thoughtful plan to ensure formerly incarcerated people can successfully transition back to society." That means more job training and education, she said, as well as "finding employers who are willing to hire people once they are released." 
See story here.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Maine: Baldacci's Flurry

The Sun Journal reports the following in regard to Governor John Baldacci's clemency record:

2010 - 51 pardons (of 193 applications)
2009 - 8 pardons
2008 - 19 pardons
2007 - 16 pardons
2006 - 8 pardons
2005 - 18 pardons
2004 - 13 pardons
2003 - 6 pardons

See story here.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Maine: Pardons Finale

The Bangor Daily News reports Gov. John Baldacci (D) has granted pardons to "more than 20 people [in] the waning days of term in office." As a result, two of the recipients were spared deportation. In a statement, the Governor said that he had "considered" the pardons "carefully, over a long period of time, and believe they serve the best interest of justice.” He also said "the punishment of deportation does not fit the crimes."

In Maine, a three-person Board of Executive Clemency reviews hundreds of applications each year, decides whether to grant a public hearing and makes recommendations to the governor. The piece also notes:
Maine’s constitution grants governors the power to pardon or commute the sentences of any individual except those who have been impeached from office or for other specific reasons, such a conviction of operating under the influence. In many cases, pardons are granted to individuals who committed non-violent crimes in their late-teens or early-20s and have avoided trouble with the law since. These might include an 18- or 19-year-old convicted of burglary or drug offenses who are still living with the stigma and legal consequences of being a convicted felon.
The report also says Baldacci granted pardons to 51 of 193 applicants in 2010 — "more than in any other year of his administration." Throughout his administration, he has pardoned an average of 17 people a year. His predecessor, Angus King, appears to have granted more than 130 pardons (across 8 years). Gov. Joseph Brennan granted about 300 (across 8 years). See full story here.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Rethinking the Pardon Power

This article from the Bangor Daily News discusses a recent speech by Kurt L. Schmoke, dean of the Howard University School of Law and former mayor of Baltimore, before a group lawyers and law students at the University of Southern Maine.

According to the Daily News, Schmoke aregued that it is time for both presidents and governors to "rethink" the role of the pardon and use that power to "remedy excesses in the criminal justice system." Unfortuately, he noted more recent pardons "seemed to be received only by the well-connected and influential." Said Schmoke:
"Rather than viewing with trepidation the opportunity to pardon or commute, the executive should welcome the chance to review annually the operation of the justice and correction systems to see if there is a need to ameliorate the often coldly objective application of criminal laws,”
and suggested the so-called “war on drugs” was a good place to start.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Maine: A Very Rare Commutation of Sentence reports Governor John Baldacci has granted clemency for the first time since he took office way back in 2003. Carol Graves shot and killed her own 71-year old father in 1997 and was sentenced to 17 years in prison. Baldacci's commutation of sentence will, however, reduce that time of service by 18 months. Says the Governor: "Our understanding of battered women's syndrome and post-traumatic stress disorder has advanced greatly since 1996. Ms. Graves has served a long sentence, and she has earned an opportunity to show she has turned her life around." See story here.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

The President: Request is reporting on the clemency application of a man from Maine who has served 14 years of a 20 year sentence for selling cocaine and heroin to a friend who was found dead the next day of a drug overdose. Although he accepts responsibility for his actions, Lance Persson also believes that his sentence is the unreasonable outcome of inflexible federal sentencing guidelines. Indeed, he was the first person in Maine to be charged by the U.S. Attorney's Office under a then-new law mandating stiff penalties for people who sell drugs to users who later die from them. Throughout his years in prison, the 38-year old has focused on self-improvement and helping others. He practices Buddhism and is completing a second college degree. On top of all of that, his petition is supported by George W. Bush's aunt, Nancy Bush Ellis, a summer resident of Kennebunkport who attends the Methodist church in which Persson was raised. On the other hand, the mother of Michael Corey opposes a pardon or a shortened sentence for the man who sold the drugs that helped kill her son. See full story here and here.

NOTE: As it happens, I have additional information which suggests that the prosecuting attorney in Persson's case believes a commutation is "warranted" and also believes that it is "unclear" whether the government could "sustain" the burden of proof that would be upon it were the case tried by today's standards. An individual who has been involved in prison ministries for more than 28 years - and has never before supported an application for clemency - says there is "no benefit" in keeping Persson in prison any longer as he has "matured, undergone redemption and has been transformed." This past July, the pastor of his home town church asked Lance to write an essay on "Freedom" to be used during services. Its presentation can be heard here. If the case interests you further, you may also want to visit

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