Showing posts with label Missouri. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Missouri. Show all posts

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Missouri: Post-Dispatch is Not Impressed

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch notes that "one of former Gov. Jay Nixon’s final official acts" was to grant 16 pardons.  The Post Dispatch says, "It was the right thing to do, but not a particularly courageous move by Nixon."
A riskier but justified call would have been to commute the sentences of 15 women who were victims of severe domestic abuse and received exceptionally harsh sentences. St. Louis University’s Legal Clinics, the Community Coalition for Clemency, and local clergy members requested clemency for the women in November. Several of the women are serving life terms. Some have spent more than 30 years in prison. Eleven are 60 or older; the oldest is 74. Many of the women have been active in prison social outreach programs, and coalition members, including former Gov. Bob Holden and retired Missouri Appeals Court Judge James R. Dowd, said the women pose no threat to society. Why not release them to live out the rest of their days with family and friends, instead of spending about $21,000 of taxpayer revenue annually to keep each of them in jail? 
The Post-Dispatch also notes the Governor refused to pardon Alvis Williams:
... despite a request from Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker. Williams drew an 80-year sentence in 1994 for second-degree burglary and stealing. The maximum sentence for conviction on those charges today would be seven years. 
Nixon also "left in prison" a man (supported by The Midwest Innocence Project) who is serving two life sentences for a double murder "that no physical evidence links him to and that someone else has confessed to committing." See full editorial here.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Missouri: 18 Pardons

It is reported that, "as he nears the end of his tenure as governor," Gov. Jay Nixon is "showing mercy." What a thing to have written about oneself. "I was a merciless, un-caring jerk. But now, just before I leave, I will don the mannerisms of human types!"

Nixon pardoned 18 people today. "including 16 religious leaders who had been convicted of trespassing for protesting in the Missouri Senate in support of Medicaid expansion." He also commuted one sentence, bringing his total clemency grant total to 110 - again, most granted near the end of the term.

It is also report that 110 is "more than any Missouri governor in the past three decades." Nixon explains:
"When you're attorney general, you're on one side of the case ... As governor, it's a position of consensus and you have executive authority ... It's not that I'm a different human being; it's a different job." 
Brilliant. Republican Gov. Christopher Bond approved a total of 201 clemency actions (1973 to 1977, 1981 to 1985). Democratic Gov. Joseph Teasdale issued 196 clemency actions (1977 to 1981). From 1847 to 1930, governors issued a total of between 4,000 and 5,000 commutations, according to the state archives. See story here.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Missouri; 12 Pardons

Governor Jay Nixon, whose record on clemency has been abysmal, has granted 12 pardons, just before he leaves office. See story here.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Missouri: Jay Nixon. Oh, Pardons?

Missouri's outgoing Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon has granted clemency to 15 people "convicted of drug-related crimes or theft." It is reported that "many" of the recipients "went on to work or attend school" and they "include Vietnam veterans, a pastor and retirees."

Nixon. What a great guy, huh?

One could say that, in his 8 years in office, Nixon averaged just fewer than 10 pardons a year - not the most impressive record (assuming the legislature and courts are not flawless, that every sentence is perfect and no one in the state had rehabilitated or rendered themselves worthy of mercy). But even that statistic is a bit misleading, making Nixon to appear a bit more competent / caring that he has actually been. You see, that is because he granted 82 percent of his paltry pile of pardons this year.

What a wonderful example of how an executive should not do things.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Missouri: Cowardice Over Courage?

At Riverfront Times, Danny Wicentowski notes the "days are dwindling in Jay Nixon's second — and final — term as Missouri governor" and that his "legacy" will probably be that of a "law-and-order politician."
In his first six years as governor, he granted just one commutation, reducing a convicted murderer's death sentence to life without parole. But in late December 2014, [he] started with nine pardons. He's since granted 52 more. On Friday, Nixon's office announced that he'd granted the largest single block pardons in his governorship, wiping away the criminal convictions of fourteen people. All had completed their sentences, rejoined society and stayed out of trouble. Only two had ever served prison terms. [Friday's] pardons follow the pattern established in Nixon's previous edicts: The cases involve relatively minor crimes such as theft and drug possession. None of the people affected are currently incarcerated. Some of the crimes date back a half-century or more.
But Wicentowski says "there's no shortage of worthwhile cases." The state legislature passed a repeal of the three-strike drug law that has put some away "for life," but the reform is not retroactive. Wicentowski says "more than 140 people are serving no-parole sentences under a law that Missouri's own lawmakers recognized as unjust."

It is possible that Nixon "is acting out of political cynicism" Pardoning only "safe" cases now will "protect Nixon in future campaigns and preserve his law-and-order bonafides."  But Wicentowski suggests that is to "choose cowardice over courage." See story here.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Where are Obama's Clemency Recipients From?

Top Ten States (and population rank) *

  1. Grants: 126 - Florida (4th)
  2. Grants: 82 - Texas (2nd)
  3. Grants: 52 - Illinois (5th)
  4. Grants: 40 - Virginia (12th)
  5. Grants: 40 - North Carolina (10th)
  6. Grants: 38 - Georgia (8th)
  7. Grants: 29 - Missouri (18th)
  8. Grants: 28 - Tennessee (17th)
  9. Grants: 26 - California (1st)
10. Grants: 25 - South Carolina (24th)

* sixty-five percent of Obama's 743 grants.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Missouri: 7 Pardons reports Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon has announced that he will pardon 7 people, including "a man charged with sexual abuse whose alleged victim later told law enforcement the abuse didn't happen." Pardons also addressed such offenses as "possession of more than 35 grams of marijuana, stealing and writing bad checks." Each recipient had served out his/her sentences. It is also reported that "of 38 pardons during his more than seven years in office, 24 [of Nixon's] were granted this year" - his final month in office. See story here.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Missouri: 8 Pardons

Gov. Nixon: Precious Little Mercy
Gov. Jay Nixon is pardoning eight persons "convicted of nonviolent crimes." Sentences included convictions for "stealing, selling cocaine and writing a bad check." Each of the recipients has "finished" associated sentences and "later found work or pursued an education." Now, the pardons restore their rights.

The Democratic governor has now granted a mere 31 pardons and 3 commutations of sentence since he entered office, way back in 2009. It is also reported that there are "about 3,000 pending requests for clemency." See story here.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Missouri: Life for Pot Commutation

Governor Jay Nixon has commuted the sentence of Jeffrey Mizanskey, who, in 1996, was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for drug possession. It is reported that the commutation "makes Mizanskey eligible for parole immediately." But the Governor says that Mizanskey must still "demonstrate that he deserves" mercy. See story here.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Missouri: Like Charles Manson but ...

Charlie Manson
"Jeff Mizanskey and Charles Manson have something in common."

That's the snappy way an ABC News 17 (Jefferson City , Missouri) story begins. What? You ask ...
They are both serving life sentences in maximum security prison. Only Charles Manson, the notorious cult leader who's responsible for the deaths of more than a half dozen people, has had at least a dozen parole hearings. But, Jeff Mizanskey has had no parole hearings, and will get none for his non-violent marijuana offenses. 
Mizanskey was convicted for the possession and sale of marijuana in the 1980s and early 90s. Eventually, he hit his "third strike" and he is now "the only person in the state serving life in prison without parole for non-violent offenses."

Mizanskey sports a clemency application packet that can point to almost 400-thousand signatures of support. It is currently, "under review." See full story and an on camera interview here.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Missouri: Law School Student Schools Frank Bruni

A third-year law student, Erica J. Mazzotti, has a fine editorial in the St. Louis Dispatch re clemency. She notes that, aside from 9 pardons Governor Nixon granted last month, he has granted only one other request for clemency since he took office in 2009.

Mazzotti notes that the "longstanding tradition" of pardoning "is not just an act of mercy." It entails a "gubernatorial responsibility" to:
... correct injustices within the criminal justice system, including sentences that are significantly disproportionate between genders, offenders who are treated as criminals when in reality they themselves are victims of abuse, and rehabilitated inmates who spend decades incarcerated when they pose no societal threat. 
[Memo to Frank Bruni: Clue up!] Mazzotti notes the Community Coalition for Clemency, represents over a dozen women who "are victims of serious domestic and/or sexual abuse, had no prior history of violent crime, and in some cases received harsher sentences than similarly situated males."

She also discusses a Sentencing Project, study entitled, "Fewer Prisoners, Less Crime: A Tale of Three States” which found that "during the periods of decarceration in New York, New Jersey and California, violent crime rates fell at a greater rate in those three states compared to nationwide rates." Unfortunately, she says, Missouri’s rate of incarceration "continues to rise and as of 2013 is 32 percent higher than the national average."  See full editorial here.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Missouri: 9 Pardons

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon issued 9 pardons to individuals who have "already served their sentences for various nonviolent misdemeanors and felonies." An official statement said the pardons were granted after "a great deal of consideration and seriousness." Nixon also said each of the individuals  had "demonstrated the ability and willingness to turn his or her life around and become a contributing member of society, including two who served honorably in our nation's military." For more information on the pardons, go here.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Missouri: Call for Clemency

The St. Louis Dispatch reports three Missouri women "suffered through years of abuse by their partners" but "went to prison for murder." However, a "newly formed coalition of lawyers, professors and lawmakers" are now calling on Gov. Jay Nixon to commute the sentence of a total of 14 women who are similarly circumstanced.

So far, Nixon has used the pardon power once. Meanwhile, 212 applications have been denied and more than 2,3000 applications are pending.

According to the coalition:
Of the 14 cases chosen, the group said nine women had no direct involvement in the violence for which they were accused, and the others acted under duress and after years of abuse. Five are over age 60; three have served more than 30 years in prison. 
The Dispatch also reports that the five Missouri governors previous to Nixon, "on both sides of the political aisle, collectively granted clemency 160 times." See post here.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Missouri: Merciless Jay Nixon

Gov. Jay Nixon
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Gov. Jay Nixon "has been a very stingy man when it comes to using his executive power on acts of mercy." More specifically, Nixon has commuted one prison sentence in his more than five years as governor, and that was in 2011. Meanwhile he has denied 218 petitions for clemency and 2,487 are awaiting his action.

The Post-Dispatch calls this a "pitiful lack of mercy compared to previous Missouri governors and most other governors in the nation."

There followed this interesting anecdote:
 Cornealious “Mike” Anderson ... was sentenced to 13 years in prison in 2000 for an armed robbery the previous year in St. Charles County. Due to a clerical error, he was never sent to jail. Instead, Mr. Anderson went on to lead a life that by all accounts has been honorable. He never tried to hide from the law. Appeals in his case went all the way to the Missouri Supreme Court. He has a drivers license with his current address, paid his taxes regularly, got business licenses and construction permits. He married, became a carpenter and fathered four children. And then last summer, the Missouri Department of Corrections noticed when it came time for Mr. Anderson to be released from prison that he had never been there. In July 2013 he was arrested and is currently in jail. 
The Post-Dispatch argues "there is no public good to be served by punishing Mr. Anderson" and it will only "cost the state money, deprive a family of its husband and father and cripple Mr. Anderson’s life once he leaves prison, all because the state failed to do its job." It then adds:
... Mr. Nixon’s “decisions reek of prioritizing politics over justice.” We also said we don’t know his motive for failing to use one of the most powerful tools at his disposal — a decision that in many cases can mean life or death. The problem remains that in Missouri, secrecy surrounds the process of clemency. There is a lack of transparency required that allows Mr. Nixon to ignore pardons or grant them with nobody being any the wiser. That’s wrong. People on death row certainly deserve an open airing of their cases. So do people serving serious time in prison. The clemency process is a crucial element of the criminal justice system and should be dealt with more openly. 
See story here.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Missouri: The No Mercy State

The St. Louis Post Dispatch has an informative article on clemency in the administration of Jay Nixon. It concluded Mr. Nixon - who has granted a single pardon in five years as Governor - is "derelict" in his "constitutional duty."

The piece also notes Nixon’s "reluctance" to grant clemency is "out of whack with his predecessors, be they Democrats like him, or Republicans" :
Ironically, the governor to use the pardon pen the most in recent years was Gov. Roger Wilson, who was in office less than a year but issued 45 pardons or commutations. In his one term, Gov. Matt Blunt, a Republican, issued 16 pardons or commutations. Fellow Republican Gov. John Ashcroft issued 30 in his two terms. Democrats Bob Holden and Mel Carnahan issued 37 and 32 pardons or commutations, respectively. Mr. Nixon, it seems, shows no mercy. 
The editorial concludes that "to think that there’s no one among the 30,000 inmates in Missouri’s prisons (at $22,350 a year each) who deserves a break is not just unrealistic, but cruel." See full editorial here.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Reverend, Bishop, Legislator Takes a Number

The Kansas City Star reports that the Reverend - Bishop and - Jackson County legislator James D. Tindall is seeking a presidential pardon stemming from his 1999 felony conviction because he wants to "clear his name." And the Justice Department has confirmed that there is a “pending pardon application” that is "currently under consideration."

Tindall, an African-American, has been elected to two, four-year terms since his conviction in 1999. He was charged with filing false income tax. See story here.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Missouri: Gov. Nixon, Where Are You?

Today's St. Louis Post Dispatch has a fine editorial entitled, "Why Hasn't Gov. Jay Nixon Used His Pardon Power?" It notes that Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn stands in "stark contrast" to Wisconsin, Gov. Scott Walker (R) and Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon (D), whose "decisions reek of prioritizing politics over justice." Nixon has granted one commutation of sentence in more than four years. The Post-Dispatch observes the commutation was granted with "no explanation" and was "one of several cases overseen by former special prosecutor Kenny Hulshof on behalf of his boss, then Attorney General Jay Nixon." In addition, "allegations of misconduct have been raised by defense attorneys in several of the cases prosecuted by Mr. Hulshof." So ...
... here in Missouri there is a governor who is well aware of mistakes made in the criminal justice system, mistakes made by his employees in high-profile cases, and he’s found only one instance in which to exercise the very important power he has to pardon or commute. The disconnect is startling, especially when compared to Mr. Quinn’s more reasonable actions in Illinois. 
The editorial also notes that that "secrecy" surrounding the pardon process is a "problem."
Last year, a special American Bar Association report critical of the state’s death penalty protocols pointed to the lack of transparency in the pardon process ... In Missouri, Mr. Nixon can ignore pardons or grant them, with nobody being the wiser as to his reasons for the application of justice or mercy. That’s simply wrong. 
It is also noteworthy that Nixon has denied 212 petitions and almost 3,000 await action. The editorial concluded:
The clemency process is a final and important element of the entire criminal justice system. It should be open. It should matter. It should be taken more seriously. We don’t know Mr. Nixon’s motivation for failure to use one of the most powerful tools at his disposal. Maybe he believes everybody in prison is guilty. Perhaps he’s still planning a run for higher office and wants to cynically take no chance that there are any Willie Hortons on his résumé. Maybe, he simply lacks mercy. We doubt that’s truly the case, but actions speak louder than words.
See full editorial here.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Merciful President v. Harsh (Incompetent) Bureaucrat(s)

The New York Times made the announcement on May 1, 1907, in a headline that read: MAY PARDON JANUARY. The brief article that followed informed readers that President Roosevelt might exercise the pardoning power in the case of John William January of Missouri by granting a commutation of January’s sentence “at once” or by granting a “outright” pardon. Roosevelt was reported to have become “interested” in the case.

January, whose real name was Charles William Anderson, was charged with breaking into the Post Office at Hennessey, Oklahoma, with the intent to commit larceny. The Federal Court at Guthrie sentenced the twenty-one year old to five years in prison in December of 1895. January was considered a “model prisoner” but, eventually, he decided that he would rather do other things. The Times originally reported January had served “the greater part” of his sentence, but he escaped from Leavenworth in October of 1898. That is, he served thirty-four months of a sixty-month sentence. On the other hand, with allowances for good conduct, January could have been released as early as sixteen months after the day he decided to escape.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Missouri: Call for Mercy features an editorial calling on Governor Jay Nixon to consider the "Easter season" by reflecting on "opportunities to display greater love, mercy, and compassion in our daily lives." More specifically, the piece calls on Nixon to consider the clemency application of 62-year old Patricia “Patty” Prewitt. Prewitt is almost 26 years into a "life sentence" with no chance of parole until 2036. She was found guilty of murdering her husband, but has always maintained her innocence.

It is said that Prewitt has been "an amazing inspiration to all who come to know her." She was "involved" in developing a parenting class for incarcerated women called “Parenting from a Distance.” She also "helped" to "organize" a program that allowed incarcerated women to read and record a storybook for their child. The has expanded to prisons nationwide.

Prewitt is also described as having "outgoing personality" and as a person who is generous "with her time and talents." She has a "positive attitude" and has "nurtured" young women who have been incarcerated with her. She offers "sound advice" has mentored "more women than could be counted" many of whom "are back in their own communities and are paying forward what has been offered to them in Patty’s kindness, wisdom, and encouragement."

See entire piece here.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Missouri:Renewed Push for Clemency

The Republic reports Governor Jay Nixon is being "deluged" with letters from people who believe he should grant clemency to Patricia "Patty" Prewitt whom they believe was wrongly convicted of killing her husband twenty five years ago. Prewitt's husband, Bill, was shot and killed as he slept and she has claimed all along that someone broke into the house. She was eventually sentenced to life in prison. See story here.

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