Clemency is a task for people and institutions of faith

  • Article by: Mark Osler
  • Updated: November 8, 2013 - 6:10 PM

It should also be a task for the president, but he seems unwilling or unable to use his powers.

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Geezer1976Nov. 8, 13 6:34 PM

Unfortunately, our society has become one of the most punative societies on the planet. We incarcerate a higher percentage of our population than virtually any civilized country in the world. It seems like the mentality of both politicians and those in the justice system is that they are not even willing to consider giving many a second chance, because they may re-offend, which is really a sad commentary on our society.

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orpheus90Nov. 8, 13 7:32 PM

Among all western industrialized nations, the US has the highest number of people behind bars - 2.3 million - and simply can't afford to continue warehousing prisoners. In fact, prison overcrowding has become an overriding concern in the most densely populated states such as California, prompting a recent court ruling ordering CA prisons to start pruning their inmate populations by cutting sentences short and giving early release to many of their non-violent offenders. Clearly reform is required, and on that score, the lobbying arm of the penal industry, clearly a growth intensive enterprise in the US, needs to be curtailed, especially regarding political campaign contributions. Penal industry lobbyists have continually fought sentencing reforms while advocating for harsher, longer sentences. They should be barred from attempting to impact the legislative process. Also, prison labor is cheap, creating entrenched interests in the manufacturing and services sector. No one can deny that the numbers behind our burgeoning US prison population are driven by profit incentives, making a mockery of our justice system.

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mdachsNov. 9, 13 1:07 AM

Let's get real. If you do the crime, you do the time! This may be just one thing that Obama has done right.

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ishikawaNov. 9, 13 7:44 AM

By and large before anyone actually goes to prison in this country, they are given 2nd, 3rd, 4th chances that come in the form of probation, public service, time served with probation, work release, work house, etc. When someone does actually goes to a prison in this country, they have been convicted and have rejected those chances to redeem themselves, pay restitution and otherwise avoid going to prison. Anymore clemency than this and we have more crime in America which steals freedom from law abiding citizens.

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Grumpy42Nov. 9, 1310:08 AM

ishakawa- Your point is well taken, however there are many non violent type transgressors who were tried under the three strikes and your out law. I could see making an exception for them and keeping the violent offenders locked up. The problem is our government will release the violent offenders to make a point. IMO the states should have the responsibility of decision making since they are closest to the problem.

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rickwstantonNov. 9, 1312:27 PM

A well written and poignant commentary. What a waste of that inmate's life. Our current system does too little to help non violent drug offenders to recover from their illness and become productive citizens again.

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stpaulisbestNov. 9, 1312:50 PM

Can you say, "Willy Horton"? Maybe, just maybe, Obama has seen what happens to democrats who give the right wing an excuse to say that they're soft on crime.

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jarlmnNov. 9, 13 3:54 PM

Clemency is a task for secular court institutions and the rule of law. Sheesh, you can't hardly run into a prisoner that doesn't suddenly 'get religion' in an attempt to gain clemency. "Institutions of faith" should mind their own business and not try to get their halos polished-up by enabling law-breakers to cynically manipulate the system by posturing as "good Christians."

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