Showing posts with label Texas. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Texas. Show all posts

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Texas: 7 Pardons

According to the Houston Chronicle. 7 Texans were pardoned Friday by Gov. Greg Abbott "in his annual Christmastime clemency proclamations." Four were from the Houston area. No reasons were given for pardons or "whether he declined any that were recommended by the parole board." According to the Chronicle, "historically, Texas governors approve pardons for those that clear parole board muster." See story here.

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.

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.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Meanwhile, in Texas ...

Scott Henson - at - notes that Governor Greg Abbott (aka "Clemency Grinch," "Pardon Scrooge") "is about to complete his first year as governor without exercising once one of the handful of core functions assigned to his office in the state constitution: Executive Clemency." It appears Abbott is not even good for "a handful of symbolic pardons around Christmas."

Says Hansen:
To his discredit, in Abbott's first year as governor, Barack Obama has granted clemency to more Texans than him, and Obama's clemency record is abysmal. It's not like the Texas governor really does much: Sign or veto bills, make appointments, and clemency really are the main things on his plate under the state constitution. But one of those three has been all but abandoned. 
The American Conservative this week featured a piece which referenced a data point originating with Henson:
"Rick Perry appointed a clemency board of tough-on-crime hardcases, then rejected two-thirds of their pardon and commutation endorsements." 
Greg Abbott "has yet to embrace his clemency power even on a symbolic level, much less on an industrial scale" - the scale of activity needed to effectively address mass incarceration and the prison industrial complex. Consequently, "since Rick Perry issued his last pardons on December 19, 2013, it's now been more than two full years since any Texan received the benefit of executive clemency." See complete blogpost here.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Texas: Pardon Strategery?

Jerry Eversole resigned his post as a Harris County Commissioner three years ago and plead guilty to lying to FBI agents. The Houston Chronicle reports that, in 2011, he was accused of:
... taking $100,000 in cash and gifts from friend and real estate developer Mike Surface in exchange for county contracts and appointments. The three-week trial ended in a hung jury and Eversole resigned his office later that year and admitted to lying to federal agents, a felony, three months later. In exchange for the guilty plea, he was sentenced to three years probation. A year later, his probation was terminated early by U.S. District Judge David Hittner.
It appears a lawyer has been found who is willing to say "presidents often make pardon decisions that might be unpopular after the election of their successor" - a wonderful sentiment supported by precious little evidence. So, the lawyer guesses, "now would be a good time to start gathering support to submit to the Pardon Division (sic) of the DOJ" - the target being November 2016.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Texas: Rick Perry's Clemency Record

The Texas Tribune reports that Governor Rick Perry has commuted 29 death sentences to life in prison. In addition, he has granted 1 conditional pardon, restored the rights of 5 others, granted 2 family medical reprieves, 2 full pardons and restoration of firearms rights, 17 pardons for innocence, 3 restoration of firearms rights and "at least" 158 full pardons.  Want to know more? Go here.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Texas: 12 Pardons

It is reported that Texas Gov. Rick Perry is granting clemency to twelve persons "after each case was favorably recommended for clemency by the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles." In Texas, a pardon "restores rights to the person but doesn't automatically expunge the arrest record, although that may be requested." Among the offenses addressed in the pardon were:  unlawfully carrying a weapon, assault, theft, burglary of a coin operated machine and theft by check. See full story here.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Pardon O. Henry!

The Editor has sent the Office of the Pardon Attorney (Department of Justice) a second formal application for the posthumous pardon of O. Henry. The application and related materials can now be viewed on the right column of this blog. The application contains the following cover letter:

Dear Mr. Rodgers,

Enclosed you will find a formal application for the posthumous pardon of the great American short-story writer, O. Henry (William Sydney Porter). O. Henry’s well-known reputation is such that President Obama recently quoted him, at an annual public event held at the White House, and the U.S. Postal Service has issued a stamp commemorating the 150th Anniversary of his birth. As the enclosed application also notes, the very courtroom where O. Henry was once convicted is now named in his honor.

In your letter of September 20, 2012, you note that, in 1985, the Office of the Pardon Attorney “declined a previous request” for posthumous pardon and that you are “not inclined” to take a “contrary position.” You explain this disinclination as the by-product of a “well settled policy” of the Justice Department not to accept applications for posthumous pardon because “the time and efforts of clemency officials are better dedicated to the clemency requests of living persons.” A casual review of the acting pardon attorney’s 1985 decision suggests, however, that you would be well justified (if not outright prudent) in developing such an inclination or - at a minimum - substantively revisiting his position.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Johnson v. O. Henry: One of These Things is Not Like the Other

Harry Reid, John McCain, William "Mo" Cowan and Rep. Peter King are back at it again. Today, they have called on the President to pardon the late boxing champion Jack Johnson.

Reid argues Johnson was a "legendary competitor who defined an era of American boxing and raised the bar for all American athletics." McCain says the pardon would be a way of "celebrating [Johnson's] legacy of athletic greatness and historical significance.” Cowan says Johnson was "one of the great African-American athletes." King says Johnson was a "trailblazer and a legend."

But, more than all that, the members of Congress argue Johnson was "unjustly tarnished by a racially-motivated criminal conviction" and a posthumous pardon would be a "small, meaningful step toward acknowledging his mistreatment before the law." In addition to being the victim of "racial persecution," Jackson was convicted via "unjust laws."

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Update: O. Henry Pardon Application

Background: On September 11th of last year, Scott Hensen (of Grits for Breakfast) and the Editor of this blog (P.S. Ruckman, Jr.) filed an application with the Office of the Pardon Attorney (Department of Justice) on behalf of the great American writer O.Henry (see application here). The basis of the request for posthumous pardon was spelled out with meticulously detail and, in addition, we researched clemency grants in the aftermath of O.Henry's offense so as to get a sense of how likely a pardon would have been granted had he ever personally applied for one (see "Reasons for Pardon" here). Within a few days, the U.S. Pardon Attorney, Ronald Rodgers, responded to our application (see his response here). 

Update: The Editor of this blog (P.S. Ruckman, Jr.) has written a letter of complaint to President Obama. An additional copy of the complaint was sent to U.S. Senator, Dick Durbin (D-Illinois). The letter holds that the Pardon Attorney's response falls far short of the high standard of excellence one would expect from an employee of the Department of Justice. At best, it demonstrates an inability to comprehend the content of the application. At worst, it intentionally mischaracterizes the content of the application to reach a preordained conclusion. Either way, it is the Editor's very strong sense that the application was not given the kind of serious, respectful consideration that any application for clemency deserves. Readers are certainly invited to agree, or disagree. See the full letter of complaint here.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Texas: 14 Pardons

News 10 reports that Gov. Rick Perry has granted 14 pardons to individuals whose applications received favorable recommendations from the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles. Among the offenses addressed were debit card abuse (1993), public intoxication (1988), carrying a weapon (1989), possession of marijuana (1972), fleeing from the police (1974), hindering apprehension (1997), unlawfully carrying a weapon (2000), criminal mischief (1995), unlawfully carrying a weapon (1993), credit card abuse (1991), unlawfully carrying a weapon (1992), assault (1985), violation of a protective order (2000), assault (1987) and theft (1988). See full story here.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

O. Henry Pardon Application Materials

On the right side bar, near the top of this blog, readers can now view the application materials for the posthumous pardon of O. Henry. Among the items are:

1. The Application (.pdf file) The official clemency application form used by the Department of Justice, completed and filed this past September 11.

2. Attachment - The Offense (.doc file) A statement summarizing O. Henry's offense and the circumstances surrounding the case.

3. Attachment - Reasons  (.doc file) A list of nine separate and distinct reasons for O. Henry's pardon featuring classic justifications for clemency routinely referenced in clemency warrants in O. Henry's day and throughout U.S. history. 

4. Letter to the OPA (.doc file) The cover letter that was sent to the Office of the Pardon Attorney (Department of Justice) along with the application materials submitted in September.

5. Reponse from OPA (.pdf file) The response that the U.S. Pardon Attorney sent within days of receiving the application materials which, oddly enough, references this blog!

We especially encourage readers to view items 3 and 5, so as to get an sense of how flippantly the application was rejected and how poorly the U.S. Pardon Attorney understood its content - to the extent that he even tried. This speaks volumes about what is going on in that office. This story is far from over however. Stay tuned !

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Texas: Call for Posthumous Pardon

CNN reports that the family of Cameron Todd Willingham (executed in Texas in 2004 for the deaths of his three daughters in fire) is seeking to "clear his name." How? By asking the state parole board for a posthumous pardon! It is reported that three "expert reviews" have concluded Willingham's conviction was based on evidence of arson that was "outdated." As it happened, the same board denied Willingham clemency before his execution. Gov. Rick Perry called Willingham a "monster," although Willingham professed his innocence in his final statement. His ex-wife, on the other hand, said he confessed to killing the girls before the execution. A jailhouse informant has recanted his statement that Willingham confessed and a judge who sat on the state court that rejected Willingham's appeal called the execution was "a miscarriage of justice." See full story here. See the Innocence Project's view of the case here.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

OPA Says 'No Way' to O.Henry Pardon

The Office of the Pardon Attorney, U.S. Department of Justice, has declined to consider an application for the posthumous pardon of William Sydney Porter (aka O. Henry) sponsored by the Editor of this blog and Scott Henson (Editor of the Grits for Breakfast blog). The application was sent to the Office via overnight mail on September 11 and the response was dated September 20 (after only seven working days).

While we are not particularly surprised at this response / outcome, we certainly did not expect it to emerge quite so swiftly. To the Office's general credit, the letter did make an attempt to explain the logic behind the decision. Of course, we reject that logic as being largely unsound, but appreciate the effort at transparency nonetheless.

Sign the online petition for the President to pardon O. Henry here.

Much, much, more on this story to follow ...

Update: Big shout out to whoever posted this to their Facebook account and brought over so many viewers and "likes." Really appreciate it, who ever you are :-)

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

O. Henry Application: A Worthy Exception

Today, the U.S. Postal Service is releasing a stamp commemorating the 150th Anniversary of the birth of William Sydney Porter, a.k.a. O. Henry. This morning Scott Henson (Editor, Grits for Breakfast) and I mailed a formal application for a posthumous pardon to the Office of the Pardon Attorney (OPA), Department of Justice (DOJ).

The web page of that Office notes that it is the "general" policy of the Department of Justice "not to accept for processing applications for posthumous pardons for federal convictions." As a result, we have simply requested that the OPA consider the merits of the several arguments in our application, and grant it the status of "exception."

It is also noteworthy that the OPA explains its "general" policy is based on the belief that:
Many posthumous pardon requests would likely be based on a claim of manifest injustice, and given that decades have passed since the commission of the offense and the historical record would have to be scoured objectively and comprehensively to investigate such claims, it is the Department’s position that the limited resources available to process applications for Presidential pardon are best dedicated to applications submitted by living persons who can truly benefit from a grant of clemency.
This is noteworthy because the application we have filed on behalf of William Porter does NOT base a claim on much of anything that is debatable, or that would requires the scouring of historical records, or a comprehensive investigation. Our application is based on considerations well-known and, frankly, beyond dispute -  William Porter’s rehabilitation, and post-prison life as a well-respected, law-abiding citizen. One need only reference the fact that President Obama actually quoted O. Henry while granting pardons to Thanksgiving turkeys last year.

Sign the online Pardon O. Henry petition here.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Pardon for O. Henry: Prelude

On November 23, 2011, President Barack Obama granted “pardons” to two turkeys named “peace” and “liberty.” The ceremony was part of a widely covered Thanksgiving ritual that has been faithfully carried on by presidents for some time.

While doing so, the President noted that Thanksgiving is “the one day that is ours … the one day that is truly American.” With some irony, in making this observation, the President quoted a convicted felon, one William Sydney Porter.

But Mr. Porter was certainly no average convicted felon.

Though some doubted his actual guilt, he served just over three years in a federal penitentiary in the late 1800s. He then emerged to become one of the most famous, and most loved, American authors. The world came to know Mr. Porter as a prolific writer of marvelous short stories. But they also came to know him as “O. Henry” - a man talented enough to admire, a citizen respectable enough to be quoted by a modern-day president of the United States during a high-profile public relations gig.

Petitioners on behalf of Mr. Porter (Scott Henson and P.S. Ruckman, Jr.) request that the President of the United States grant a posthumous presidential pardon ...

Sign the petition HERE !

Saturday, September 1, 2012

IV. O. Henry: The American Writer

William Sydney Porter (aka O. Henry) left prison on July 24, 1901. While he was there, he published (with submission assistance from a friend in New Orleans) fourteen short stories which are considered among his greatest (including Whislting Dick’s Christmas Stocking, Money Maze and George’s Ruling).

He immediately traveled to Pittsburgh to reunite with his daughter. In April of 1902, he moved to New York City. From his room at the Hotel Marty, he impressed the editors of Ainslee’s Magazine 1902. Contracts would soon follow from McClure’s and New York’s Sunday World. By 1904, he was living on a handsome salary, for a writer, and publishing at a fantastic rate.

After his death, in 1910, one author notes O. Henry had been “the most popular short story writer in America” for some time. By 1916, he had passed “beyond the status of a one-nation writer with his rapid development into a best-seller in England.” Another author notes O. Henry’s popularity was “established” and his fame “assured.” O. Henry had become “the American writer.”

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

III. O.Henry: Prisoner No. 30664

William Sydney Porter stepped into the federal penitentiary in Columbus, Ohio on April 25, 1898. He was thirty-five years of age and signed in as a newspaper reporter and pharmacist. He soon confided in others that his hope for a favorable appellate court decision made prison life tolerable. One author suggests Porter "lived in constant expectation of a pardon"(S, 154).

Chief physician John M. Thomas said, looking back over his experience with over ten thousand prisoners, he had never known a man "who was so deeply humiliated by this imprisonment." As a result, said Thomas, Porter's record was "clear in every respect." Indeed, there was not a single demerit against him (S, 147). Thomas said of Porter, He was a "model prisoner, willing, obedient, faithful" (O, 66)

Thursday, May 24, 2012

II. O.Henry: Trial and Conviction

In Mid-December 1894, there were signs that there were complications with William Porter's accounts at the First National Bank (Austin). That is also when he "suddenly" resigned from his position as teller. In the background, it was rumored / known that his humor weekly, The Rolling Stone, was struggling financially, and that, on occasion, Porter was prone to gamble.

F.B. Gray, the federal bank examiner, insisted on prosecution over the initial protests of Robert U. Culberson, the U.S. Attorney in Austin, who insisted that, at most, Porter may have made a "series of mistakes" without any criminal intent (O, 46, 47).  Officers of First National, including the Vice President, also let it be known that they did not believe Porter had committed any crime (O,47). So, while Gray did appear before a grand jury, in July of 1895, and dramatically accused William S. Porter of embezzlement from bank funds, the members of the grand jury didn't buy it.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

I. O.Henry: The Early Years

The following is the first part of a series of posts on William Sydney Porter (O. Henry), informing readers of O'Henry's life, accomplishments and federal conviction. Readers are encouraged to join the PardonPower blog and GritsforBreakfast in our effort to secure a presidential pardon for this Great American writer. Sign our petition here!

William Sydney Porter  was born on September 11, 1862, at  "Worth Place," a plantation in Greensboro, Guilford County, North Carolina. “Will” was named after his mother’s father, William Swaim (a journalist), and his father’s father, Sidney Porter. Will’s mother, Mary Jane, was a college graduate. His father, Dr. Algernon Sidney Porter, qualified for the medical profession by clerking in a drugstore. But, eventually, Dr. Porter was known as a leading physician in his county (O, 6).

With the exception of Will’s imagination, wit and humorous pen and pencil sketches, there is little about his childhood that translates into storybook idealism. His mother died of tuberculosis at the age of thirty. Her own mother had died from the same malady and, throughout his teens, Will was notable for his hacking cough. Many did not think he would live long himself (O, 14).

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