First, as Grits has reported in the past, Grissom noted that "From 2001 to 2009, the board considered more than 2,000 applications. It recommended clemency in more than 530 cases, and Perry granted about 30 percent of them." The Tribune's Matt Stiles created a helpful, searchable database of Perry's Pardons.
P.S. Ruckman who writes the blog Pardon Power got in a good one: "In Texas, the Board of Pardons and Paroles would seem to give the governor a kind of political cover, since he can’t grant a pardon without their recommendation. Ruckman says it’s baffling that Perry so often rejects the suggestions of a board whose members he appoints. This year, the board recommended 41 clemency applications to Perry, but he rejected 80 percent of them. 'You’ve got to wonder, if he appoints them … why he disagrees with them so much,' Ruckman says." Indeed. Grits has noted in the past that "In my own mind, I probably hadn't given the parole board enough credit for how many clemency recommendations they make compared to the meager number Governor Perry ultimately signs off on." Texas would actually have a more robust clemency program if Governor Perry followed his appointees' recommendations.
Grissom compares Perry's record to recent governors: "In his nearly six years as Texas governor, George W. Bush granted only 21 pardons. Compared to Texas governors before them, Ruckman says, Perry and Bush have been particularly parsimonious with their pardons: Republican Gov. Bill Clements issued more than 800 pardons during his eight-year tenure, and Democratic Gov. Mark White issued nearly 500 pardons in four years." Grissom didn't mention how many pardons Ann Richards gave during her single term, but this source says the number was 70.
The article closes with these sentiments from former Clinton pardon attorney Margaret Colgate Love:
Of course, pardons aren’t just for people who want out of prison. Many times those who request pardons have already served their time and paid their fines and are simply fed up with not being able to find jobs, buy guns for hunting or vote because of their criminal records. In Texas, there are some 1,400 legal barriers for convicted felons, says Margaret Love, a clemency attorney and former U.S. pardons attorney during the Clinton administration. A full pardon wipes those away and gives the offenders better access to jobs, homes and a normal life, which also means they will be less likely to get into trouble with the law again. “The function of the pardon is precisely to say, ‘Hey, it’s okay now,’” she says.See related Grits posts:
Love says that if Perry is worried about political fallout, he would do better to rely more on the board’s pardon recommendations instead of picking through them himself. “He would be able to use his power more generously," she says, "and there is certainly a need.”
- Christmastime clemency is a joke, but pardons could be meaningful remedy for 'government overreach'
- How the Grinch stole clemency: Christmastime pardons trivialize process
- Casting light on Texas clemency decisions
- Public tired of Willie Horton? Whither 21st century clemency?
- Perry's Christmastime pardons an odd mix, short list
- Clemency in the Rick Perry era
- "The quality of mercy is not strain'd," particularly when it doesn't have to do any heavy lifting