Stop meddling with pardon power
The state Senate has passed a bill that would include the Judiciary in the process of reviewing applications for pardons.
Gov. Linda Lingle has issued more than 70 pardons from criminal convictions since taking office more than five years ago. That is consistent in number with pardons by past governors, and none have been controversial, so a bill in the Democratic Legislature that would dictate an onerous process of reviewing pardon applications is nothing more than partisan harassment.
A person seeking a pardon applies to either the governor or the state Paroling Authority. By law, the Paroling Authority and state director of public safety then investigate the case and make recommendations. As a matter of policy, Lingle has the attorney general conduct another investigation before sending it back to her.
A bill approved last week by the Senate would assign the Democratic-controlled Judiciary to review applicants sentenced to probation, leaving the Paroling Authority to review applications from those imprisoned or on parole. It would require the governor to give 30 days of public notice, including the reason, before issuing a pardon.
As Barry Fukunaga, Lingle's chief of staff, pointed out, a pardon generally is sought by a person needing a clean record to apply for jobs. Public notice would "make the pardon process divisive rather than rehabilitative," he explained. Attorney General Mark Bennett said the revision also would violate the state Constitution by including a separate branch of government in the process.
The names and records of those pardoned are public record. In January, Lingle issued a press release naming the five people granted pardons last year, along with the nature and dates of their convictions. "These individuals made mistakes and have since proven their ability to lead law-abiding lives and to be productive members of our community," she said.
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