Friday, August 25, 2006

News of the Day 8-25-06

A couple of stories on second chances, not sure whether they're optimistic or not. Robert Ehrlich, MD's Republican governor, has stepped out of the "too scared to think straight" mold of most governors today, including his predecessor. Ehrlich has increased the number of pardons and clemencies he's issued in his term there. One of the smartest things he's done here, which should be modeled by other governors, is to bring the state's major victims' group into the process. Of course, the state's major victims' group, the MD Crime Victims Resource Center, should be the national model of its kind as well. [DISCLAIMER: when in MD, I served on the Center's board, and I have since reviewed grant proposals for them. I also count its talented, insomniac director, Russell Butler, as a friend.] The offspring of a truly amazing woman, Roberta Roper, who lost her daughter in one of the worst crimes I've ever heard, the Center is a hallmark of rational consideration of criminal justice policy which recognizes that victims aren't always best served by the blind vengeance of many "advocates" and preying demogoguery. Ehrlich consults with them, limits the surprises to victims and their families, and applies basic common sense. How refreshing. His wife being a former public defender also apparently brings a perspective that assists his reasoning. Being a Republican, Ehrlich might be doing a "Nixon goes to China" thing here that spurs others. It just seems a little awkward to praise someone for doing his job the way it's supposed to be done, but I'll leave it at that. . . . Then comes the Dallas Morning News article on a job fair for former felons that only drew 10 potential employers who mainly handed out job apps to thousands of attendees. One former inmate, one with a college degree making less than $6/hr., sums it all up, "American society needs to know that the crime rate will continue to climb . . . if people can't find gainful employment." (h/t Crim Prof Blog). . . One last note. What sentencing guideline ranges will likely apply to these anti-cohabitation laws we have being considered? Will they qualify for community sentences and, if so, what on earth could they be?

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