Recently in Clemency Category
President Obama has charted new levels of executive defiance, but even he hasn't refused to obey a Supreme Court ruling. Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe has sought to follow Mr. Obama's executive hubris, and now he's gone further and is acting in contempt of the court that has rebuked him.
In July the Virginia Supreme Court struck down his executive order restoring voting rights to 206,000 felons. Under Virginia law the Governor can grant clemency on an individual basis. But the justices wrote that "Governor McAuliffe's assertion of 'absolute' power to issue his executive order" runs "afoul of the separation-of-powers principle" in the Virginia constitution. The individual clemency power, the court admonished, "does not mean he can effectively rewrite the general rule of law."
Mr. McAuliffe replied that he "cannot accept" the ruling...He has since acted on his defiance by restoring rights to some 13,000 felons who had already registered to vote when the state Supreme Court's decision invalidated his executive order.
If anyone on the Left has denounced McAuliffe for his open defiance of the rule of law, I haven't heard about it. But being pro-criminal in Leftist culture means never having to say you're sorry, court order or no court order.
We had thought that breast-beating exhortations like "extremism in the defense of liberty" had seen their last when Barry Goldwater's landslide loss put extremism in the cold light of a sober nation's reflection.It is true that crime had risen to unacceptable levels during the George H.W. Bush Administration, but we have made six years of progress in scaling it back without President Dole's resort to criminal justice extremism.A balanced and mature approach to justice requires that a President show at least a modicum of respect to a consensus that has lasted for more than 50 years, through prior administrations and political climates of all stripes. When, to the contrary, a chief executive's sentencing outcomes push past those of his nine predecessors combined, he has simply gone off the deep end, there's no other honest way to put it. This is not a defense of liberty. It's a defense of the President's out-of-the-mainstream ideas, a sop to the most extreme elements of his base, and it has to stop.
Rep. Bob Goodlatte said he is "deeply concerned" about the size and scope of those commutations -- including the 214 approved Wednesday -- saying the president's actions are a "blatant usurpation" of Congress's authority....
President Barack Obama commuted the sentences of 214 federal prisoners yesterday, part of his ongoing crusade against a criminal-justice system he regularly declares racist and draconian. The White House trumpeted the fact that this was the largest one-day grant of clemency since 1900....
Many of the commuttees possessed stolen firearms or firearms with their serial numbers obliterated. Some were in violation of National Firearms Registration, which can mean possession of a federally prohibited weapon, such as a machine gun, silencer, or sawed-off shotgun. We don't know how many guns the offenders actually had; a commuttee during a previous batch of commutations had 40.Nor does the Justice Department's press release disclose the actual incidence of firearm possession by these federal convicts. Gun possession can be used to increase a federal sentence under the federal sentencing guidelines without a prosecutor's actually bringing a formal charge. A gun charge can also be plea-bargained away. Many advocates of criminal-justice reform believe in maximum gun control, yet White House press releases on the president's commutations have been silent on the widespread incidence of illegal gun possession.
President Obama commuted the sentences of 214 people serving federal sentences on Wednesday -- the most commutations issued by a president in a single day since at least 1900 -- White House officials told BuzzFeed News.************************
Including Wednesday's commutations, Obama has granted a total of 562 commutations -- a number that the White House says is more than the previous nine presidents combined but that has been questioned by some advocates...
This provision is clearly intended to allow the Governor to restore voting rights, among other rights, upon an individualized determination that the person has actually "gone straight." Is it limited to that? Former Governor Tim Kaine (D) thought so.
Or does it empower a governor to effectively repeal the disqualification provision by entering a sweeping restoration of voting rights to all felons? Present Governor Terry McAuliffe (also D) thinks so. The WSJ has this editorial.
Why does Governor McAuliffe want more criminals to vote, whether they are rehabilitated or not? Simple. Criminals perceive -- correctly -- that on the whole Democrats are more likely to favor their interests as opposed to the interests of law-abiding people. That tendency has been somewhat less pronounced in recent years than it was in earlier years, but the difference is coming back, as noted Bill's and my posts of Monday.
Hence, criminals -- especially those who have not gone straight -- will vote for the Democratic Party in greater proportion than law-abiding people do, and in a close election the criminal vote may tip the scale. After 2000, the Florida recount, and all that, we must recognized that such matters could have serious consequences.
The editorial notes that the Virginia Supreme Court heard arguments on the question Tuesday.
After seven years in office, Mr. Obama has issued a total of 184 commutations and 66 pardons -- more grants, as the White House wasted no time in pointing out, than the last six presidents combined....By the administration's own estimates, [however], as many as 10,000 people could be released under the new criteria, former Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. told The Washington Post this month. So why is Mr. Obama continuing to make grants in the single or double digits?
On Friday, December 18, President Obama, working in conjunction with the Justice Department, ordered the early release of another 91 convicted drug traffickers from fully lawful sentences their criminal behavior had earned. This brings to approximately 150 the number of traffickers given early release through executive clemency in just the last 14 months.When it announced the clemency project, the Administration committed to granting clemency only if six specific criteria were met, including that the defendant was a non-violent, low-level offender, did not have a significant criminal history, and had no history of violence. Sadly, that has not been the case.In fact, many of the drug traffickers being released had armed themselves (one with 40 firearms); many were leaders or supervisors in their crimes (one was the lead defendant in a 69 day trial); many had multiple prior felony convictions (one had 8 prior felony drug trafficking convictions); and the vast majority were involved in conspiracies to distribute large quantities of dangerous drugs, often hundreds of thousands of dollars' worth of methamphetamine or cocaine.Significantly, these clemency releases are in addition to the 46,000 drug traffickers who are being released through retroactive softer sentences the White House and the Justice Department sought from the U. S. Sentencing Commission. As has been widely reported, 6,000 to 8,000 of these convicted drug traffickers were released early last month, and another 8,500 will be released in the next ten months.No one is claiming these released traffickers are innocent, nor that the drugs they trafficked are harmless. No one is claiming that some -- probably most -- won't do it again. In fact, this class of drug offenders deals in potentially lethal drugs and has a high rate of recidivism (up to 77% according to a study by the Bureau of Justice Statistics). And no one can provide certainty that addicts - the young, the old, the weak and the vulnerable - will not die as a result of these releases.
A Washington state prisoner mistakenly released early because of a computer error has been charged with killing his girlfriend in a car crash when he should have been behind bars, officials said Monday.
The revelation comes a week after Gov. Jay Inslee announced that a software coding error led as many as 3,200 offenders to be wrongly released since 2002. He has ordered a review of prisoner releases ahead of a broad fix to the software problem, which is expected early next month.
One of those freed was Robert Jackson, 38, who walked out of prison Aug. 10, four months too soon. He had been convicted of robbery with a deadly weapon and should have been released Dec. 6.
During that time, he fled from a Nov. 11 wreck in Bellevue that killed his girlfriend Lindsay Hill, 35, who was riding in the car he was driving, according to prosecutors and Department of Corrections officials.
Jackson has been charged with vehicular homicide and felony hit-and-run and is being held in jail on $2 million bail, prosecutors said.
He was speeding and impaired by drugs or alcohol at the time of the accident, prosecutors said.
Gosh, what a surprise that a previously convicted felon would flout the law again!
About 6,000 drug offenders will be released from federal custody over the next few days, but some legal experts warn that the government has done too little to help many of them successfully reintegrate into society.