Category: pardons

Hailey Barbour suspends Scott sisters’ sentences

Governor Hailey Barbour has suspended the sentences of Gladys and Jamie Scott.  As the announcement appears below indicates, this was a political compromise.  According to the governor’s announcement, “The Mississippi Parole Board reviewed the sisters’ request for a pardon and recommended that I neither pardon them, nor commute their sentence.”  If no one in the wider world was paying attention, this would have been the end of the matter.  But thanks to Nancy Lockhart, the civil rights community is well aware of this egregious case and, with Mr. Barbour already on the hot seat for his racial tin ear he had good reason to look for a third way. (more…)

You can help the Scott Sisters

Nancy Lockhart has been working behind the scenes to bring the plight of Jamie and Gladys Scott to national attention.  Interest in the story spiked recently but, with no recent developments, interest is beginning to flag.  Nancy would like you to get personally involved.  The message below tells you how.

Alan Bean

Message from Nancy Lockhart

Jamie and Gladys Scott both went before the Mississippi Board of Pardons and Parole today. Results from this hearing are unknown at this time. Please continue to call and e-mail governor Haley Barbour’s Office in support of their release. Each call and e-mail is very important! (more…)

Osler: Obama’s Mercy Dearth

If Barack Obama can reduce the crack-powder disparity, why hasn’t he issued a single pardon? 

Mark Osler, a law professor, former federal prosecutor and Friends of Justice board member, poses this question in an op-ed published Sunday in the Dallas Morning News.  I hope I’m wrong, but I think I know the answer.  Like most Democrats, our president fears that a show of mercy will make him look weak.  So, like Bill Clinton before him, Obama maintains the pious fiction that the criminal justice system never errs or overreaches.  Hopefully, the next two years will see more action on the pardon front.

 Mark Osler: Obama’s Mercy Dearth

12:00 AM CDT on Sunday, November 7, 2010 

Former federal prosecutor Mark Osler teaches at the University of St. Thomas School of Law in Minnesota. He previously taught law at Baylor University for 10 years

On Oct. 28, the White House announced that President Barack Obama had earlier in the month denied 71 pardon requests and 605 petitions for commutation of sentence, while granting none. Nearly two years into his term, Obama has issued exactly zero pardons and no commutations, a sorry record that distinguishes him from nearly all of his predecessors. (more…)

The Justice Department’s “No Pardon” policy

By Alan Bean

Thanks to Doug Berman for alerting me to this hard-hitting critique of the Justice Department’s Office of the Pardon Attorney.  Samuel Morison’s comments originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times. 

Here’s the heart of his critique: “Having spent more than 10 years as a staff attorney in that office, I can say with some authority that the prevailing view within the Justice Department is that the pardon attorney’s sole institutional function is to defend the department’s prosecutorial prerogatives. There is little, if any, pretense of neutrality, much less liberality. On this parochial view, the institution of a genuinely humane clemency policy would be considered an insult to the good work of line prosecutors.”

A no-pardon Justice Department

President Obama should rely more on his own moral judgment than the Justice Department’s in making clemency and pardon decisions.

By Samuel T. Morison

November 6, 2010

The Times’ well-intentioned Oct. 30 editorial bemoaning that fact that President Obama hasn’t yet granted any pardons or commutations, in which the editorial board correctly notes that the president is “aided in such decisions by the Office of the Pardon Attorney in the Justice Department,” betrays a profound misunderstanding of the role the pardon office plays in the clemency advisory process. In particular, The Times writes, “Ideally, presidents would give great deference to the pardon attorney’s recommendations and take a liberal view of the clemency power, exercising it often and on the basis of clear standards.” (more…)