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The act of executive pardons has gotten way out of hand, reader contends

by The Western News
| February 2, 2012 3:30 PM

Letter to the Editor,

Haley Barbour’s absurd action in releasing over 200 convicts on his last day as governor and the public reaction that followed, I believe, calls into question the rationality of the pardon power of presidents and governors.

Aside from the disasters that have resulted from these pardons in the past, I believe it is necessary to examine from a logical perspective why this power originated and why it continues.

The legal system in our country is probably the most equitable in the world. It has been exploited, no doubt, by lawyers more concerned in maximizing their compensation than in seeing justice done, but by and large, a suspect of a crime in our nation is given ample opportunity to avoid wrongful prosecution. Typically in the case of capital crimes, the legal process can consume hundreds if not thousands of hours of investigation, interrogation, forensic analysis, judicial purview, jury selection, the actual trial as well as an appeal process. After all this, the idea of a single individual able to negate the entire process with pardon power I find completely ridiculous. From the public perspective, it is outrageous to have the collective wisdom of detectives, lawyers, witnesses, and judges overridden by a president or governor. For a member of a jury, it means the days, weeks or months spent on jury duty is a complete waste of their time.

Some of these pardons have had horrific consequences, but the governor or president responsible carries on as though nothing of consequence occurred and the practice continues. Very strange!   

— Bill Payne