In preparing my Letter to the Editor, to go out on Friday, I called my friend, Judy Smith at the Board of Pardons to get the actual numbers. Astonishingly (I mean this is an incredible departure of their practice of “deny, deny, deny”!) 39 out of 40 Applications for a Pardon were recommended to the governor for approval. Of the 11 inmates who applied for a commutation (early release), three were granted (the three men whom they brought in from the prison), 5 were denied, and 3 were rescheduled for a hearing next month when those men will be brought in. So, only 5 of 11 denied – again, remarkable! 🙂
Letter to the Editor – Policies are Changing for the Better! 12/22/17
I attended the meeting of the Delaware Board of Pardons on 12/14/17, and saw what I had thought I might not see for years: significant progress in the thinking and attitudes of many about our criminal justice system.
From my conversations with old acquaintances like Tom Foley (now leading a state bail reform committee) and Kathleen Jennings (now with New Castle County but head prosecutor in Delaware for years) and others, it is clear that they and many others are starting to realize that we have made big mistakes which must be corrected. What kind of mistakes? Primarily, thinking that “tough on crime” (mandatory minimum and “habitual” laws) reduce crime. Also, (a) thinking that long prison sentences reduce crime, (b) thinking that prison is the place for nonviolent drug offenders, the mentally ill, and others, (c) thinking that cash bail is a good idea. During the past 5 years I have seen numerous studies showing that none of these measures reduce crime!
Of 40 Applications for a Pardon, 39 were granted … truly an astonishing departure from the past practice of “deny, deny, deny”! Among the 11 inmates who had applied for a Sentence Commutation – early release – 3 were recommended to the governor to be granted (the three men who were brought in from the prison for a hearing), 5 were denied without a hearing, and the other 3 were deferred, to be considered next month when those three will be brought in for a hearing. Again, only 5 out of 11 denied is remarkable.
I write to commend Lt. Governor Bethany Hall Long, The Honorable Andre Bouchard – Chancellor, State Auditor Tom Wagner, and State Treasurer Ken Simpler for doing the right thing. I have been (and always will be) steadfastly critical of those who fail to see the flaws in the system and who fail to do justice … so let’s give credit where credit is due!
Ken Abraham, former Deputy Attorney General, founder of Citizens for Criminal JUSTICE, and co-founder of Team Posner Law Group, Dover, DE 302-423-4067
I get lots of letters published, and ghost write for others. THIS IS THE BEST WAY TO REACH THOUSANDS OF READERS! The keys to getting your Letter published are:
1. Keep it to 250 words or fewer.
2. Do not make it about “poor little old me”. Describe the problem as one which not only affects the individual, but is a senseless or ineffective measure, policy, or law which also harms communities and society. For example, with reentry, the obstacles make it unnecessarily difficult for the individual, but also harm society by making it hard to become productive, spending money and paying taxes in the community, and they cause increased recidivism = increased crime.
3. Speak from your heart.
4. Google any facts you are not sure about.
5. Do not name-call.
Do what works: Write that Letter!
Letter to Editor – sign name, town, state, and your phone number (they often call to verify that you sent it), and “Member of Citizens for Criminal JUSTICE” if you like – shows you are part of a large group.
Send the email to yourself, and put on the “bcc” bar the email addresses for Letters to the Editor for the top ten newspapers in your state and several national ones – The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, U S A Today (google the Letter to Editor email addresses). Any questions, CALL me at 302-423-4067!
GOOGLE THE EMAIL ADDRESSES FOR “LETTERS TO THE EDITOR” FOR THE TOP TEN NEWSPAPERS IN YOUR STATE AND SAVE THAT INFORMATION FOR REPEATED USE – Some papers will print a letter from you every 2 ekke, some every 30 days, some every 90 days. They have varying policies. But if you really want to make a difference shoot them a new letter once a month! I send one out every 2 weeks.
Need a Letter on some criminal justice issue and not a great letter writer? NO EXCUSE! Email me a rough draft and call me and I’ll polish it up! firstname.lastname@example.org .
ANY QUESTIONS, CALL ME AT 302-423-4067.
GOOD NEWS. 12/14/17
I spent most of the morning at hearings of the Delaware Board of Pardons. Long enough to say a few words on behalf of inmate Joe Walls, whom I met in prison, greet a few lawyer friends, meet others, hear about 30 presentations and hear the Board rule on about 50 applications for Pardons and for Commutations.
They recommended that the Governor grant Joe Walls’ Application for early release. In Delaware, like 47 other states, the Board makes a recommendation and then the final decision is up to the governor.
But more significantly, the Board GRANTED about 3/4 of all applications I heard. They did this even over the opposition from the A G’s representative in some cases. This really is amazing. They never would have done this 2, 3, 4, or 5 years ago. The questions they asked, the comments they made, and the decisions they made, all show that they are starting to realize that the old “deny”, deny”, “deny” does no good and does not work, and that people who are worthy deserve a second chance. We ARE making a difference! 🙂
I shall be writing an Op Ed piece to send out soon, praising them for their flexibility, common sense, and enlightenment.
My discussions with some lawyers and other officials in attendance showed that they too are having “an attitude adjustment” in the right direction!