More on the question of pardons from long-time TPM Reader DS …
Just wanted to follow up with you on the issue of pardons. While I cannot speak to the specific pardons Haley Barbour allowed, I agree that there should be more pardons, not less, and that pardons are very difficult to come by.
When I was 17 years old I got into some very serious trouble. I was charged with two non-violent felonies which I plead down to misdemeanors. I served my probation, completed my community service, and paid all fines and restitution, all before I was 19 years old.
My record was basically clean after that. When I was 20 I worked at a factory for a decade until it closed down and I went to school. The incident didn’t affect me during my undergraduate studies even though my major was Criminal Justice. I did have to write a letter of explanation and provide documentation to get into graduate school, but it all went through and I was accepted.
Shortly after that the victim of my crime, who is a relative, encouraged me to look into getting my record expunged. I did, but because I waited so long I was not eligible for that. So I decided to ask for a pardon from the governor.
I spoke to the pardon liason on multiple occassions. I sent in school transcripts, proof of probation/etc completion, letters from the victim, my family, friends, police officers, professors, and a state senator. The process was mentally and emotionally taxing and took almost a year. In the end, it was denied. No explanation. Just denied.
Ultimately I wasn’t too upset. I had committed the crime, after all. I was 100% guilty. I wasn’t seeking absolution, I was seeking relief. You see in my state there is no automatic expungement. Once you are convicted of a crime it is on your record FOR EVER. And becuase my crime involved theft, I am barred from working in various sectors regardless of explanation. And even though I was 17, the criminal justice system in this state considers one an adult at the age of 16.
The reason that I am writing this and hope that you publish it is because I am looking at the backlash from the Barbour pardons and fear that the procedure will become even more onerous. I should mention that I am at the point in time where I could re-apply, but it’s just too much. So I will continue to serve my time, almost 25 years later.
Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.