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Monday, December 22, 2014

Ind. Gov't. - "In 2 years, Pence yet to grant 1st pardon"

That is the headline to Niki Kelly's Sunday story in the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette. The subhead is: "Bias for due process cited; several area cases in limbo." Some quotes:

INDIANAPOLIS – The man who said he wants Indiana to be the best place for criminals to get a second chance hasn't given any.

Since taking office in January 2013, Gov. Mike Pence has received 34 recommendations from the Indiana Parole Board regarding pardon petitions.

And he hasn’t granted one.

“I have a heavy bias for respect for due process of law,” Pence said. “It’s a high hurdle for me.”

He said last year his public safety team didn’t bring him any cases that rose to the level he sought. But he is taking a fresh look this year and expects to make decisions between now and the end of the year.

There is no statutory deadline for Pence to act.

The 34 cases vary greatly, including the recommendations themselves. The Indiana Parole Board voted to grant some, deny some, and some cases had split votes.

But Pence has total discretion on whether to give a pardon.

A pardon is executive forgiveness for a crime that removes penalties and disabilities – such as not being able to get a gun license if you are a felon – to a person while also restoring civil rights, essentially making a person a new man or woman.

They are granted only to those who have completed their sentence, and at least five years have passed. It is not the same as commuting a sentence or clemency, where a person is let out of jail before a sentence is satisfied.

“I will prayerfully consider recommendations through the prism of what justice demands,” Pence said. * * *

Pence did not talk about any specific cases. But he said that the new expungement law might be more appropriate for some crimes.

Other things he will take into consideration are whether restitution was made if necessary; if the former offender has been active in the community and has support for the pardon; the nature and circumstances of the crime itself and how much time has passed since the events.

“I think offenses for violent crimes, I would view those with a much higher threshold,” Pence said. “But again it’s what justice demands looking at the totality of a person’s life.” * * *

Former Gov. Mitch Daniels gave pardons most – but not all years. In total he gave 62 in eight years – far fewer than recommended by the board.

He said his office kept statistics and he had the lowest pardon percentage of any governor.

Earlier stories by reporter Kelly on gubernatorial pardons are memorialized in ILB posts from Sept. 4, 2013 and Jan. 8, 2012.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on December 22, 2014 08:44 AM
Posted to Indiana Government