Showing posts with label statistics. Show all posts
Showing posts with label statistics. Show all posts

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Colorado: Another Governor AWOL

Gov. Hickenlooper
The Denver Post notes that, "more than two years after Gov. John Hickenlooper ordered the re-creation of the [State's] Executive Clemency Advisory Board [the] board has yet to review a single application." Indeed, it has never even met.

So, no pardons have been granted by Governor Hickenlooper, who just got around to filling the Board's seven seats this past week!

The Post reports this inactivity has had an impact. "About 150" applications have been filed since the Board was formed in 2012. The president of Colorado's Criminal Defense Bar notes there is no legal "requirement" that the governor show up and participate in the State's system of separation of powers and checks and balances, but ignoring pardons can discourage people:
"A pardon is a legal forgiveness. It doesn't forget the act, but it forgives it ... We want that system to be in place because we want people to be motivated and incentives to do phenomenal things ..."
The Post also notes 13 people were given pardons by Gov. Bill Owens (over 8 years) while Gov. Bill Ritter granted 42. See full article here.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

California: 105 Pardons

The Los Angeles Times reports Governor Jerry Brown has maintained his "custom" by releasing a list of 105 people ("mostly minor drug offenders") who have received pardons from him. It is also reported that Brown has pardoned 510 people since 2011. In comparison, previous governors Schwarzenegger, Davis and Wilson combined for a mere 29 pardons, over 20 years. The Times also notes that "those granted pardons have all completed their sentences and been released from custody for more than a decade without further criminal activity." See full story here.


Sunday, December 21, 2014

Indiana: Corny, Outdated Rhetoric Over Mercy

Niki Kelly of the Journal Gazette (Fort Wayne) has written a pithy piece on the Governor, whom she notes, is a man who "said he wants Indiana to be the best place for criminals to get a second chance." Kelly, however, has the nerve to observe that Mike Pense took office in January of 2013, has received 34 recommendations from the Indiana Parole Board regarding pardon petitions and "he hasn’t granted one."

Failing to understand the nature and purpose of the pardon power, Pence, evidently, rationalizes his inexcusable neglect by saying that he has "a heavy bias for respect for due process of law.” How he does not understand that the pardon power is part and parcel of "due process" is a complete mystery. Maybe history majors at Hanover college don't learn about separation of powers and checks and balances in federal republics.

Perhaps more revealingly, Pence says clemency requests represent a "high hurdle" for him. Which is to say, his view of the matter varies considerably with Founding Father Alexander Hamilton who, in the Federalist papers (previously read by History majors nation-wide), recommended that there be "easy access" to mercy because criminal codes have an almost natural tendency toward cruelty, and insensitivity to due process.

Pence has offered that he will “prayerfully consider recommendations through the prism of what justice demands”- a promise which does seem a little more encouraging in contrast to mindlessly posing as a get-tough-on-crime law-and-order drone. Consider, for example, Pense's revelation that, in his mind, "offenses for violent crimes" involve "a much higher threshold,” Wow. The man is deep, cutting edge!

Kelly also notes former Gov. Mitch Daniels granted 62 across almost all of the eight years he was in office. But even that was "far fewer than recommended by the board." See the entire, very well written piece here.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Obama: A More Rigorous Comparison

It is reported that a White House official recently attempted to favorably compare the clemency record of President Obama with recent presidents, Bush, Clinton and Reagan, which is something like being proud of the fact that your team has won more Super Bowls that the Minnesota Vikings, or that you have won more presidential elections than Harold Stassen.

Below, we have disaggregated Justice Department data (which are also arranged by fiscal year) for five recent two-term presidents and arranged them to display the cumulative number pardons and commutations of sentence granted to the exact point (month) in time where President Obama's term is today.

Click on Image (Above) to Enlarge
What is obvious is that Obama is no Eisenhower, or Ronald Reagan for that matter. Data for presidents like FDR and Woodrow Wilson would simply go off the chart. And, indeed, at this point in his presidency, Obama lags behind recent two term presidents. This is, of course, the reason why, to date, he sits at 7th on the list of All-Time-Least-Merciful-Presidents.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Illinois: Quinn Pardons 126

Stupid Ceremony, Part Whatever
While news organizations from PBS to the Times and Post are writing stupid stories about the stupid practice of pardoning turkeys, the Governor of Illinois continues to take the clemency power seriously. Governor Quinn is a lame duck, but he is not engaged in a lurid last-minute dump (See Bill Clinton and Haley Barbour). Quinn has made the regular use of clemency a priority since he came into office and inherited a ridiculous application back load from Rod Blagojevich.

Now, Quinn is reported to have "acted" on 311 cases. He granted clemency in 126 and denied requests in 185. It is also reported that"some" of the cases "date back to crimes committed in the early 1970s."

In total. Quinn has acted on 3,358 clemency petitions since 2009,  and has granted clemency in 1,239 instances.

One of the persons Quinn has pardoned is Robert Taylor, who was convicted as a teenager in the rape and murder of a 14-year-old. He and four others were cleared by DNA evidence. Taylor spent nearly two decades behind bars.

Read more about his case, and others 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.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Lacking In Mercy

There are certainly many ways to gauge the amount of mercy displayed in an administration. Instead of simply looking at the total number of pardons, commutations of sentence, remissions of fines and forfeitures and respites, we gathered original data and calculated the average number of individual grants of clemency - per year of the term - for each and every president. That is to say, we considered consistency in the use of clemency throughout administrations, as well as the overall figures. This is what we found:

Click on Image (above) to Enlarge

It is clear that, to date, the Obama administration represents a low point, a very low point, in the exercise of this great, necessary, Constitutional power.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Obama Administration: Making More History

In the first 9 months of fiscal year 2014, the Obama administration has received a record 5,228 petitions for commutation of sentence. The number of pardon applications is much lower (178), but may be in line with previous years once the year is up.

Click on Image (above) to Enlarge

President
Granted Pardon Applications
Granted Commutation Applications
All Applications
Nixon
1 in every 2
1 in every 15
1 in every 3
Ford
1 in every 3
1 in every 25
1 in every 4
Carter
1 in every 3
1 in every 36
1 in every 5
Reagan
1 in every 5
1 in every 100
1 in every 8
H.W. Bush
1 in every 10
1 in every 245
1 in every 19
Clinton
1 in every 5
1 in every 90
1 in every 16
W. Bush
1 in every 13
1 in every 779
1 in every 55
Obama
1 in every 32
1 in every 1,371
1 in every 249



Monday, June 23, 2014

California: The Pardon Guy

The L.A. Times has an interesting piece on one 77 year old John Garbin, a.k.a. "the pardon guy" (or the "certificate of rehabilitation guy." Garbin says, "We do not live in a forgiving society." The Times says Garbin, a senior paralegal in the public defender's office, has spent "the last two decades answering about 1,000 calls a year from felons, most of them drug offenders."
He digs into each one's history to confirm they have gone straight for at least seven years (about 5% to 10% fall short). Then he works to persuade a judge to grant them a wider path back into society. His success rate is an astounding 95%. Such a certificate doesn't erase the past, but it does restore some of the civil rights lost upon conviction. It also serves as an automatic application for a governor's pardon, the ultimate badge of rehabilitation. With Gov. Jerry Brown granting clemency more often than his recent predecessors, more people are flocking to Garbin for a shot at their governor's pardon. For them, Garbin often seems their only hope. 
The piece also reports that over the 20 years Schwarzenegger, Gray Davis and Pete Wilson served "only 29 pardons had been granted." Jerry Brown has granted 375 since taking office in 2011. Garbin takes credit for 41 of them. See story 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, April 29, 2014

Obama's Clemency Statistics (Update)


President
Granted Pardon Applications
Granted Commutation Applications
All Applications
Nixon
1 in every 2
1 in every 15
1 in every 3
Ford
1 in every 3
1 in every 25
1 in every 4
Carter
1 in every 3
1 in every 36
1 in every 5
Reagan
1 in every 5
1 in every 100
1 in every 8
H.W. Bush
1 in every 10
1 in every 245
1 in every 19
Clinton
1 in every 5
1 in every 90
1 in every 16
W. Bush
1 in every 13
1 in every 779
1 in every 55
Obama
1 in every 32
1 in every 1,165
1 in every 199

Source: U.S. Department of Justice, Office of the Pardon Attorney

Friday, April 18, 2014

California: 63 Pardons

The Los Angeles Times reports that Gov. Jerry Brown's office has granted 63 pardons (see details here) "tying the clemency decisions to Good Friday." According to the Times, Brown has granted 314 "at Christmas and Easter" since he took office in 2011. A news release also observed:
“A gubernatorial pardon may be granted to people who have demonstrated exemplary behavior and have lived productive and law-abiding lives following their conviction, ... Pardons are not granted unless they are earned.”
It is also reported that Governors Arnold Schwarzenegger, Gray Davis and Pete Wilson combined granted 29 pardons over 20 years. See story here.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Gov. Mike Beebe, Who Does He Think He Is?

Gov. Mike Beebe
Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe just doesn't get it.

The man uses the clemency power, a check and balance explicitly provided to him by his State's Constitution, on a regular basis, yes, even monthly! For some reason(s), he does not do nothing for many months in a row - like many State governors, and the President of the United States. Nor does Beebe simply wait until December to grant pardons. Why, he isn't even waiting until the last days and hours of his term to dump pardons (in the manner of Haley Barbour). This man, Beebe, is granting pardons right and left, as though the power given to him was meant to be used - not neglected for long periods of time, or abused.

Apparently, Beebe has not gotten the memo, informing him that, if he is not careful, he might be "Willie Hortoned"! Richard Nixon outlawed coddling up to criminals in the late 1960s. Who doesn't know this?

Beebe does not seem to comprehend that critics will eagerly misrepresent his decisions as having overruled the decision making of judges and juries. Why, even Governor Scott Walker (Wisconsin) gets this, and refuses to even allow the great American tradition of executive clemency to be anywhere near his State's criminal justice system. George Washington and James Madison may have coddled up to Whiskey Rebels and Baratarian Pirates, but the legendary contributor to the Republic, Scott Walker, is no such wimp.

Beebe's pardons fall so regularly, in such an even-handed manner, why, one suspects he sees clemency as a regular part of the business of being governor and that, perhaps, he may even have a systematic approach to what he is doing, maybe even a clear set of standards. How in the world can this kind focus and rationality be tolerated even as Mitt Romney brags about having pardoned no one? It is baffling.

Google away looking for stories of how Beebe's pardons have "backfired" - how he has sprung violent criminals from prisons for no apparent reason, only to see them reek havoc on society once again. Google away. It is almost like there is nothing there. Nothing whatsoever. How is Beebe getting away with this, month after month, year after year? It is downright baffling.

One has to wonder: how many other governors could be doing this?

Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe’s
Clemency Record
Month
Year
Pardons / Commutations
April
2014
10
March
2014
9
February
2014
5
January
2014
4
December
2013
7
November
2013
3
October
2013
7
September
2013
7
August
2013
3
July
2013
4
June
2013
7
May
2013
8
April
2013
6
March
2013
8
February
2013
5
January
2013
3
December
2012
7
November
2012
7
October
2012
7
September
2012
4
August
2012
5
July
2012
6
June
2012
9
May
2012
7
April
2012
7
March
2012
6
February
2012
7
January
2012
4

172

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Iowa: Restoration of Voting Rights

The Associated Press reports Gov. Terry Branstad has "restored voting rights to more convicted felons in 2013 than in the prior two years combined." That amounts to 21 in 2013, 17 in 2012 and 2 in 2011. Consequently, his restorations actually represent "a tiny fraction of the thousands of former offenders" who  cannot vote because of a "policy change" he ordered in 2011.

It is reported that Branstad can also be credited for making the application process "easier" in in response to "criticism from voting rights groups." More specifically, he "removed requirements that applicants submit a credit history check and that all court-ordered restitution be paid to victims in full before they apply."

Iowa is now one of only five states that requires the governor to restore the voting rights of convicted felons. Applicants must:
... answer 29 questions, including one requiring them to provide the details of their sentence and others requiring them to provide the current addresses of the judge, prosecutor and defense lawyer involved. They must submit documentation showing they have either paid their restitution and court costs or are working in good faith to do so. And they must undergo a criminal background check through the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation. The governor's office decides on applications within six months, granting them as long as the criteria are met. 
See story here.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Ohio: Clemency Record of Gov. Kasich

The Columbus Dispatch reports Gov. John Kasich has :remained consistent in flexing his clemency powers in his third year in office" meaning that he has acted "conservatively" in most cases and with "unusual consideration" in one death-penalty case. According to the Dispatch Kasich "disposed" of 391 clemency requests and, along the way, granted clemency in 22 instances - or 5.6 percent of the cases. Although he "allowed" four executions, he made an "unprecedented decision" to postpone a fifth case seven months so the prisoner's "nonvital organs could be harvested for transplanting as he requested."

The clemency process, in Ohio, is described as follows:
Ohio governors have nearly unlimited executive-clemency power, enabling them to stop or postpone executions, commute or reduce sentences, and grant pardons. The only requirement is that the Ohio Parole Board must have first made a recommendation in each case. 
Kasich's overall record is described as follows:
All 22 of the clemencies Kasich approved were pardons in old cases, some going back as far as the 1970s and 1980s. Pardons allow individuals to clear their criminal record. In his first two years as governor, he approved 29 of 640 cases he decided, less than 5 percent. Former Gov. Ted Strickland, a Democrat, approved 20 percent of 1,615 clemency requests he handled between 2007 and 2011. Most involved low-level, nonviolent offenses, as well as five death-penalty commutations. Former governors George V. Voinovich, who served from 1991-98, and Bob Taft, 1999 to 2007, each approved less than 10 percent of the clemency requests they received. James A. Rhodes approved clemency in 56 of 320 cases, or 17.5 percent, in 1982, his last full year in office. All three governors were Republicans. Only Kasich, Strickland and Taft faced life-or-death decisions as governor. No capital cases made it to the desks of Rhodes, Richard F. Celeste and Voinovich. 
See full story here.

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