Will Greg Abbott exercise clemency more generously than Perry? Texas' longest serving governor rejected two-thirds of recommendations for clemency sent to him by the Board of Pardons and Paroles, for the most part allowing the constitutional pardon power to atrophy on his watch. He's not the only executive-branch figure to ignore the clemency process: It's something Rick Perry and Barack Obama have in common. Still, to my knowledge, no reporter ever questioned Greg Abbott during the campaign about his stance on executive clemency: Other than his view that governors can issue posthumous pardons, who knows what Abbott thinks about the pardon power?Along with vetoes and bill signing, clemency is one of a handful of unique executive powers in a system based on separation of powers. But you wouldn't know that from the gubernatorial campaigns last year nor from media coverage of Texas' executive, which typically treats clemency as a Christmastime afterthought if it's considered at all. As much as I'm pessimistic about whether Abbott might adopt a more aggressive clemency policy, I'm even more disappointed that the man made it all the way to the governor's mansion seemingly without ever facing a question about clemency or discussing the issue publicly at all. That speaks more to a failure of press and process.
Tuesday, January 27, 2015
Pardon me, Governor Abbott, but about your clemency policy?
Despite recent national attention to clemency policy, I've yet to hear of any reporter asking Texas Governor Greg Abbott about his. Might he order a review of the hundreds of cases in which the Board of Pardons and Parole recommended clemency and Perry never signed off to see if deserving candidates were overlooked? Should we expect clemency to be exercised regularly as a routine part of the governor's duties or will it be relegated to symbolic Christmastime media rituals, as under his predecessor? And in general, as Grits wondered last November: