The controversial decision by the President to commute the sentence of Roger Stone has, once again, focused attention on the word “commutation.”
Commuting the sentence of a person convicted of a crime is something that both a President and a Governor may do. It falls under the umbrella of granting clemency, which means to give mercy, to forgive. This action allows the Pres or the Gov to show leniency or mercy…an act of grace “based on fairness, justice and forgiveness.” The action replaces the original sentence with a less severe punishment.
Readers of this column may remember our efforts to seek a commutation for James Hicks, who was serving a sentence of 50-200 years. Mr. Hicks, who helped state and federal authorities for years while behind bars, was finally granted clemency by former Governor Snyder. Under his new sentence, he was given credit for time served and released.
Here’s why we contend that both our President and our Governor have let us down.
President Trump grants clemency, but only to his cronies. He has commuted the sentences of 11 of his political allies now, and these were for serious offenses. Charges like war crimes, murder and arson! Roger Stone, who was just freed, had been convicted of seven crimes, including ones aimed at shielding the President himself.
Regardless of your political persuasion, you must admit that our founding fathers, when setting up this provision in the constitution, probably didn’t envision having it be used this way.
Exactly the opposite is true of Governor Whitmer. She doesn’t commute any sentences.
Lawyers, advocacy agencies, support groups, friends and relatives, have expended hours of work, blood, sweat and tears, to prepare hundreds of applications for worthy Michigan inmates. All for naught. The stack of apps remains ignored.
Victims’ rights groups and prosecutors aside, the release of many of these people would not jeopardize the safety of society. Instead, our prison population and budget would get some much-needed relief. And deserving inmates would be free.
So there you have it: A Republican President who grants commutations for all the wrong reasons; and, a Democratic Governor who won’t grant any at all.
Shameful…in both situations! We can and must respond.
On the national level, that can happen at the polls in November.
On the state level, we must make our voices heard, to the Governor and our state legislators.
If we remain silent, we become part of the problem.
The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything.