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August 25, 2006

Maryland governor taking clemency responsibility seriously

Gr2006082500077 This morning's Washington Post has this front-page article about Maryland Governor Robert Ehrlich's "unusually active" use of executive clemency powers.  Here are some details (to go along with the few stats to be found in the chart to the left):

Since taking office in 2003, Ehrlich (R) has granted clemency to 190 former convicts, reversing a two-decade trend among state and national chief executives, who have largely shelved their power to issue pardons.  Many of his peers consider the practice politically risky, but Ehrlich said he considers it part of his constitutional duty.

He has invoked his authority to clean the slate most often for those who have, in the aftermath of a youthful indiscretion, lived exemplary lives.... But the governor has also tackled cases that his predecessor wouldn't touch: a backlog of clemency appeals from lifers who had convinced state parole officials that they were ready to be released. "You have these situations where race may have played a part, insufficient counsel may have played a part, where the shooter is out and the accomplice is still in," Ehrlich said. "Those needed to be addressed."

His pardons touched people across the state and across party lines. Ehrlich's political advisers cringed when he began holding monthly meetings to review pardon applications, but, he said, his law school training and his marriage to a public defender instilled in him a sense of duty. "This is what governors do," Ehrlich said. "Criminal justice is something I'm trained in, and I believe in it. But I know at times the system doesn't work even though there are a lot of safeguards."...

August 25, 2006 at 12:27 PM | Permalink

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