, Muskogee, OK

October 20, 2012

Give board more control of pardons

— Removing the governor from the parole process for non-violent offenders would streamline the system and give those worthy of a second chance a more speedy release.

State Question 762, which goes before voters during the Nov. 6 general election, would give the State Pardon and Parole Board more authority by eliminating the need for the governor’s approval.

Incarceration is meant as restitution to society for criminals and as a deterrent for would-be criminals.

But convicts also should be allowed to prove they can be productive members of society by their conduct in prison.

The state is better off rehabilitating offenders rather than just housing them.

We are better off when an offender can be re-integrated into society.

However, the pardon and parole process is politicized when the governor’s office has oversight.

Sitting governors are influenced by the potential harm of pardoning or paroling the wrong convict.

If a convict is pardoned and re-offends, then the governor’s next opponent will make it a campaign issue.

Governors are politically better off leaving most offenders in prison to say they are tough on crime.

Some will argue that the governor’s office creates additional transparency. However, each month the board alerts family members of victims of crimes that the offender is up for parole.

And remember, State Question 762  applies to non-violent offenders only.

Those convicted of violent crimes should have to pass another stage of approval.

Non-violent offenders who have proven they pose no risk to society should be allowed release in a timely fashion.

Governors only slow down the process and create political decisions where there should be none.