Representative Zamarippa Again Stands For The People
By Alan Eisenberg, Editor
Governor Scott Walker recently confirmed that he will not consider or grant pardons while he is governor of the state. All previous governors granted pardons. The move has an impact on minorities throughout Wisconsin. As Walker knows, a pardon can open a door for better employment and a multitude of other societal benefits. The local daily reported on the situation this week, but their article was loaded with inaccuracies. State Representative JoCasta Zamarippa how ever took a different stance, and went on the record to indicate that she has begun “her own legislative investigation to look into ‘de-politicizing’ the pardon function and removing it from the Governor’s control.” Many states regulate the pardon function by relegating the responsibility to departments of divisions or corrections, and treat it in a totally NON-partisan way. Governors seeking higher office or re-election can suffer negative consequences if they grant the wrong person a pardon. Non-partisan entities cannot. Standards usually call for long periods of good behavior and/or community acceptance and a long list of other requirements, all of which Walker intents to ignore. Most people believe that offenders should get a second chance if they meet the requirements. Some people believe that even minor offenders should be stigmatized for life. It is possible that the legislature may hold hearings on this important subject in 2013. Some states have recently moved to completely decriminalize some offenses. Should a person in Colorado convicted of mere criminal marijuana possession now be eligible for a pardon? A related topic is expungement in Wisconsin, which is totally left to the discretion of a trial court judge and restricted only to those convicted of misdemeanors between the ages of 18 to 21. All judges are also political officials, who often have one eye on the ballot box. A pardon or expungement does not erase a police record. A pardon is not reported to the convicting court, either. A fresh look at these processes is needed.