Bedside pardon shows “soft on crime” label losing power
We were struck by this recent headline: “Gov. McAuliffe makes pardon from hospital, where he will remain overnight.” The Virginia governor was recuperating from a procedure to drain his lungs made necessary by a holiday fall from a horse, when he called reporters to his hospital room to witness a grant of “conditional pardon” (Virginia’s term for a sentence commutation) to an autistic man jailed for assaulting a police officer, to permit him to go to a secure treatment center in Florida for help rather than being warehoused for years in a Virginia prison. It is likely that McAuliffe wanted to show himself fully able to conduct state business. But it seems significant that he chose this particular official act to make the point.
The bookend episode that immediately comes to mind is Bill Clinton’s well-publicized departure from the campaign trail in 1992 to fly home to Arkansas to sign Ricky Ray Rector’s death warrant. Rector had shot himself in the head after murdering a police officer and was effectively lobotomized — and so unable to appreciate his circumstances that he asked to save the pecan pie from his last meal for “later.”
There may be no more telling sign that the “soft of crime” label is losing its power over elected officials than McAuliffe’s decision to publicize this bedside act of mercy.
- PA high court holds sex offender registration unconstitutional - July 19, 2017
- Sex offender consequences in the Supreme Court – what’s ahead? - July 18, 2017
- Fair Credit Reporting Act applied to criminal records - July 18, 2017
- Introducing the new Restoration of Rights Project - June 28, 2017
- Defendant entitled to “Hail Mary” effort to avoid deportation - June 24, 2017
- Scholarship round-up IV - June 23, 2017
- “Justice Alito’s misleading claim about sex offender rearrests” - June 22, 2017
- Court rules sex offenders cannot be barred from social media - June 20, 2017
- Introducing the Compilation of Federal Collateral Consequences - June 15, 2017
- “Back to Business” – A report on fair chance hiring policies - June 13, 2017