October 2011

Posted by on Oct 4, 2011 in Blog, Clemency Blog | 0 comments

October 2011

The October edition of Reggie Garcia’s blog on executive clemency, parole and criminal justice issues in Florida.

It has been a very busy month in Florida and the nation on criminal justice issues:
On Sunday 8/28/11 my clemency article was published as an “op – ed”  (news speak for opinion editorial) in the South Florida Sun – Sentinel newspaper owned by the Tribune Co.
On 9/2 I obtained a court Order to Expunge a client’s arrest records. Same day former Gov. Jeb Bush endorse the 6 “Right on Crime” principles advocated by the Center for Effective Justice at the Texas Public Policy Foundation.
Along w/ Nancy Daniels, the elected Public Defender in the 2d Judicial Circuit, I met w/ 3 parole commissioners to advocate for a pro bono client/inmate serving life for murder and rape. On 9/14 we presented his case and won a “2-year review” for him. The crimes were brutal but he has been a model inmate for 28 years, and poses no safety threat if he’s ever released.  The elected state attorney and victim’s family did very well arguing against us.
Please note Fla. has abolished parole in 1983 except for capital murder, then in 1995 even those crimes. So parole cases are old for very serious crimes with life or long sentences.
On 9/16 delivered the lunch speech on clemency and other criminal justice issues in Tampa to the Fla. Conference of State Black Legislators.
Many thanks to the  Ft. Myers News – Press owned by Gannett for publishing my clemency op-ed.  This generated many calls and emails from Southwest Fla. including from an 89 – year -old advocate on behalf of a state prisoner he believes has been unfairly sentenced for DUI Manslaughter.
As state legislators started Fall committee mtgs. in Tall., I testified on clemency and the new state licenses “de-coupling” law to House Criminal Justice Subcommittee. We discussed the importance of helping felons get jobs even before their civil rights are restored but also how RCRs and especially full pardons can help with jobs and careers.
Attended the Senate Criminal Justice Committee and learned important trends in drug crimes, prison admissions and releases, and sentencing. …. all very hot topics in Fla. and the country now as local and state gov’ts struggle with budget cuts.
On 9/21 the Gov. and Cabinet held its 3rd quarterly mtg. and approved 19 clemency applications for pardons, firearm authority and RCRs; 2 prison commutations were denied.
The final clemency meeting this year will be Thursday, 12/8 at the state Capitol. Also that day, a former state senator called to get my advice for a health care professional.
On 9/28 Fla. executed an inmate who 30 years ago killed a Coral Gables policeman. That makes 70 executions in Fla. since the USSC allowed states to proceed.  Aside from the moral and legal issues which are hotly debated —  one legislator said the real issue is “How do we keep people safe from crime in the most cost-effective way.”
Georgia, Alabama and Texas also had executions this month which keeps the national debate alive.
Also on 9/28 the New York Times reported federal clemency trends:  Historically, after review by the U.S. Department of Justice, presidents have approved approximately 20% of cases but recently it has dropped to just 3%.  More on these federal trends in next month’s edition.
Finally, on 9/29 I was the featured guest newsmaker to discuss state licenses and clemency on radio station WTAL-AM 1450 hosted by former Leon County Comm. Anita Davis. There is still a huge education challenge to inform felons and taxpayers about all these issues.
Questions and comments are encouraged and may be discussed in future blogs.

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