Showing posts with label Ohio. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ohio. Show all posts

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Ohio: 39 Pardons

The Dayton Daily News reports that Gov. Ted Strickland has granted executive clemency to 39 people. 33 persons were granted pardons and 6 received commutations. At the same time he denied clemency in 137 cases. None of the cases involved the death penalty, and most are said to be "associated with minor or nonviolent offenses" (including theft, burglary, passing bad checks, drug trafficking and marijuana possession). See full story here and here.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Ohio: Strickland to Get Busy

The Dayton Daily News reports that Gov. Ted Strickland "hopes to make decisions on all 1,200 applications for clemency now piled on his desk" before he leaves office in January. Strickland says he has been "working through them" and spending "hours and hours and hours" in the process. He also says that he expects to rule on a "batch" of applications in a week or two.  On the other hand, Strickland insists that he believes the process should be "handled carefully and deliberatively." See full story here.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Ohio: Commutation of Sentence

WYTV 33 reports Governor Strickland prevented the execution of Sidney Cornwell, by reducing his sentence to life in prison without parole. Cornwell unintentionally shot and killed a 3 year old girl during an episode of gang violence in 1996. Three adults were also injured.

Strickland also issued the following statement:
“As a result of his conviction for aggravated murder, Mr. Sidney Cornwell is scheduled to be executed on November 16, 2010. I have completed a review of the circumstances surrounding his case to determine if executive clemency is warranted.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Ohio: Backlog Growing

Alan Johnson of the Columbus Dispatch reports that Governor Strickland "is being flooded with requests to use his executive clemency power." According to Johnson, Strickland has received 488 clemency requests this year alone and has 950 cases pending. To date, Strickland has commuted the sentences of three and has allowed 17 to be executed. See story here.

Monday, September 6, 2010

The Data Show ... Very Little

According to this article, there is a "database of death penalty commutations" somewhere which shows that "only [George W.] Bush, who was governor of Texas at the time, reduced a Death Row inmate's sentence during an election year and then went on to win re-election." The observation is made, of course, in response to Ohio Governor, Ted Strickland recent granting of clemency (again, a commutation of a death sentence to life in prison without the possibility of parole) to Kevin Keith. But it also appears the data base shows:
It's not that clemency decisions aren't made during gubernatorial campaign years -- 12 other governors have done so since the death penalty was reestablished in 1976 -- and it's not that they all go on to lose the race either -- only two of 12 did.
This is because 10 of 13 governors (not including Strickland) in the data who reduced a death penalty sentence in an election year were not even seeking re-election. In other words, the sample size is so incredibly small, only a fool - or a journalist desperate for a headline - would make anything out of it at all. Outstanding. Just outstanding.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Ohio: Poor Clemency Reporting. Great Emotional Exploitation

The Mansfield News Journal is featuring an article which borders on outright irresponsible journalism. Written more like a propaganda piece, or a advertisement, the article discusses the "emotional response" and "anger" of Ohio citizens who oppose the Governor's recent decision to commute the death sentence of Charles Keith to life in prison without the possibility of parole. As if that were not grim enough, the piece also attempts to describe the elation of those supporting the Governor's decision!

The critical element of the story - the reasoning behind the Governor's decision - is not to be found anywhere in the article. Not a single sentence! One person calls the Governor "ignorant." Another says his decision is "unfair." Another asks for an explanation and yet the piece refuses to even recognize the fact that the Governor issued a very specific statement on the matter.

Journalists can do better than push buttons! See story here.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Ohio: Commutation of Sentence!

Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland has commuted the death sentence of  Kevin Keith to life without parole. Keith claims he is innocent of  a triple slaying. Strickland has also issued the following statement:

“Kevin Keith was convicted, by a jury, of callously murdering three people - including a four-year old child - and shooting three others, including two young children. Since the time of his arrest more than 16 years ago, Mr. Keith has maintained his innocence, insisting that someone else committed the murders.

“Mr. Keith’s conviction has been repeatedly reviewed and upheld by Ohio and federal courts at the trial and appellate level. The Ohio Parole Board recommended against clemency in this case. There is evidence which links him to the crimes that, while circumstantial, is not otherwise well explained. It is my view, after a thorough review of the information and evidence available to me at this time, that it is far more likely that Mr. Keith committed these murders than it is likely that he did not.

“Yet, despite the evidence supporting his guilt and the substantial legal review of Mr. Keith’s conviction, many legitimate questions have been raised regarding the evidence in support of the conviction and the investigation which led to it. In particular, Mr. Keith’s conviction relied upon the linking of certain eyewitness testimony with certain forensic evidence about which important questions have been raised. I also find the absence of a full investigation of other credible suspects troubling.

“Clearly, the careful exercise of a governor’s executive clemency authority is appropriate in a case like this one, given the real and unanswered questions surrounding the murders for which Mr. Keith was convicted. Mr. Keith still has appellate legal proceedings pending which, in theory, could ultimately result in his conviction being overturned altogether. But the pending legal proceedings may never result in a full reexamination of his case, including an investigation of alternate suspects, by law enforcement authorities and/or the courts. That would be unfortunate - this case is clearly one in which a full, fair analysis of all of the unanswered questions should be considered by a court. Under these circumstances, I cannot allow Mr. Keith to be executed. I have decided, at this time, to commute Mr. Keith’s sentence to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Should further evidence justify my doing so, I am prepared to review this matter again for possible further action.”

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Ohio: Rejection

The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports the State's eight member Parole Board has unanimously recommend that  governor Ted Strickland not extend clemency to 46-year-old Kevin Keith, who is scheduled for execution on September 15. Keith is charged with the 1994 slaying of three individuals and the injury of three others, but there is increasing concern that he may actually be innocent of the crimes for which he has been charged. See story here.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Ohio: Request Gathers Support

Amid growing concern that the State of Ohio may be on the verge of executing an innocent man, prominent individuals from Ohio and across the country today called on the Ohio Parole Board and Governor Ted Strickland to grant clemency to Kevin Keith.

Mr. Keith is scheduled for execution on September 15, 2010, despite new overwhelming evidence of innocence that no court or jury has ever heard in its entirety. The new evidence shows that Mr. Keith was wrongfully convicted based on faulty and improperly influenced eyewitness identification. Additional new evidence identifies an alternative suspect who told a police informant that he was paid to carry out the crime for which Mr. Keith now stands to be executed.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Ohio: Request

The Columbus Dispatch reports that the State's Parole Board was impressed by the testimony that it heard today re the clemency application of Gregory Winbush. Winbush finished a prison sentence in 1996 (for crimes committed between 1989 and 1992), has overcome alcohol and drug addiction and is looking for the chance to earn a college education. Columbus Mayor Michael B. Coleman spoke on Winbush's behalf, saying he is "an example of someone who has been truly rehabilitated" and "paid his debt to society." According to the Dispatch, Coleman's "political opponents" have "tried over the years to make an issue of Winbush's employment" as an assistant. See story here.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Ohio: Strickland Spares Nields

Governor Ted Strickland today issued the following statement regarding the pending clemency application of Richard Nields:

As a result of his conviction for aggravated murder, Mr. Richard Nields is scheduled to be executed on June 10, 2010. I have completed a review of the circumstances surrounding his case to determine if executive clemency is warranted.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Ohio: Clemency Recommended!

The Associated Press reports that the State's Parole Board has recommended (by a 4-3 vote) clemency for Richard Nields who is scheduled to be executed on June 10. The 59-year old beat and then strangled his girlfriend in 1997. The three members who voted against clemency noted Nields often threatened his girlfriend and that he stole her car, money and travelers' checks.See story here.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Ohio: Strickland to Pay for Being Reasonable and Responsible?

Aaron Marshall of the Cleveland Plain Dealer has written an editorial predicting that Governor Strickland will be lampooned as a bleeding heart liberal, soft on crime while coddling criminals. And why not? Considering all of the damage was done by the spin and exceptionally poor reporting that engulfed Mike Huckabee a few months back. Writes Marshall:
... Last November, the Democrat granted pardons or commuted sentences for 78 people who committed crimes including drug abuse, forgery, theft, robbery and murder ...
Yes, that does make for quite the headline in the wrong set of hands. It invites one to ask, "Why Strickland setting all of these criminals free, to run in the streets?" But, Marshall is careful to further explain that 77 of the 78 persons were already "free," to "run in the streets" if you will. Strickland simply granted pardons to individuals who had already served their time, paid their debt to society and had lived law-abiding lives in their communities for significant periods of time. He didn't give them a "get-out-of-jail-free card." He simply restored their right to vote, serve on a jury, etc. You know, all of those things those people "in the streets" are so want to do! Thus, if anyone is to blame for them being "free," it would be the judges who sentenced them! So, let the investigations begin! Let the heads roll!

Monday, March 29, 2010

How the Media Killed the Commutation

There was a time (in the early 1900s) when presidents actually granted more commutations of sentence than they did pardons. Today, of course, commutations of sentence are downright freakish. Lyndon B. Johnson was the last president to use them with anything like regularity.

On June 6, 1966, Johnson set a new record for the highest number of individual pardons granted in a single day. Johnson broke the forty-three year old record of Warren Harding by granting clemency to ninety-three individuals. But author Kathleen D. Moore notes Johnson was also “disgusted” by “press criticism” of the “large” number of pardons that he granted.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Ohio: Rutherford B. Hayes' Pardon Rules

As Governor of Ohio, Rutherford B. Hayes developed some personal "guidelines" with respect to pardons. First, Hayes suggested a pardon (or a “promise” of one) should never be granted “on the first presentation of the case.” Second, cases should be considered “all together” if “two or more" were "concerned in the crime.” Hayes observed “one is often called the dupe until he is pardoned; then the other becomes the dupe and the pardoned man the leader.” Third, Governor Hayes advised against pardoning any man who was not “provided with employment or the means of subsistence” or had no “friend” to “receive him as he comes out of prison.” Fourth, Hayes maintained that the opinions of judges, prosecuting attorneys "and some intelligent citizen of sound sense” were critical elements in sound clemency decision-making. And his final rule: any and all of the above rules could be “departed from in cases requiring it.”

Monday, March 8, 2010

Ohio: Reprieve to Rest Up, Recover, for Execution!

Lawrence Reynolds was scheduled to be executed Tuesday morning for a murder he committed way back in 1994. But, instead, he decided to attempt suicide. Apparently, Reynolds' condition is such that he is now quite unsuitable for execution.

So, Governor Ted Strickland has issued a reprieve, delaying the execution for another seven days, and allowing Mr. Reynolds to rest up, recover and get himself back into proper shape for execution!

See story in the Columbus Dispatch here.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Ohio: Commutation, but No Release

Sonya Jackson was convicted of stabbing and killing her boyfriend in 1988 and sentenced to 20 years to life. But, last year, Gov. Ted Strickland commuted the sentence so as to make her eligible for parole. Now the state's parole board has decided that Jackson should serve her full sentence, or at least another eight years of it. See complete story here and here.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Ohio: Clemency Success Stories

Laura A. Bischoff, of the Dayton Daily News, is presenting a series of stories on individuals who have been the recipients of clemency in the State of Ohio. But hold your horses! None of them presents the Maurice Clemmons scenario - which is to say, they are all much, much more representative of the hundreds and thousands of individuals who have benefited from mercy (state and federal) who have gone on live quite, productive, law-abiding lives.

They don't usually make the headlines. There isn't any political payoff to misrepresenting their records or distorting the facts in relation to the decision making that led to their pardon, or commutation of sentence. As a result, these are great stories, and they very useful. They can serve to realign excitability and perceptions with cold, hard fact. Lord knows we are all in need of this kind of realignment after the bumpy "reporting" of the Clemmons' affair! Please take a few minutes to check out this great reporting:

* Path to Redemption: Pardons Reward Ex Cons' Determination
* Pardons Erase Mistakes of Ex-Cons Seeking New Lives
* Former Dayton Cop Became Model Citizen After Prison
* After Serving Time for Killing Man, Mother Can Begin New Life
* After Years of Drugs, Stealing Dayton Native Turned Around

Sunday, December 20, 2009

A Dull Blade in Toledo

The Toledo Blade takes the position that U.S. Pardon Attorney Ronald Rodgers "missed the point" earlier this month when he announced that, as a matter of general policy, the Department of Justice will not entertain pardon applications filed on behalf of people who are dead. The Office has, in recent years, been dealing with record numbers of new and pending clemency applications, so Rodgers' position actually reeks with the pungent stench of both fairness and common sense.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Ohio: Former Red Pardoned

The Cincinnati Enquirer notes that Governor Strickland's recent batch of pardons includes the name of five-time Major League Baseball all-star shortstop, and former Cincinnati Red, Leo "Chico" Cardenas. Cardenas signed out of Cuba, won a "gold glove" award (1965) and batted .333 in the World Series against the New York Yankees (1961). He also led the league in intentional walks in 1964 and 1965. His career spanned 16 years. The Reds traded Cardenas, aka "Mr. Automatic," to the Twins for lefty Jim Merritt in 1968. He then played with the Angels (1972), the Indians (1973) and the Rangers (1974-5) before retiring to Cincinnati and working with an oil company.

But, in 1997, Cardenas was convicted for attacking another man and breaking a car window in the process. Strickland's pardon came with the condition that Cardenas pay the medical bills of his victim. See story here.

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