At Least 8 Murderers Get Partial Pardons In Ky.

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - Gov. Steve Beshear has granted partial
pardons to at least eight convicted murderers and 14 rapists over the past five months, allowing them to vote and run for office.
Kentucky Department of Corrections records provided to The
Associated Press show that Beshear also granted partial pardons to 23 people convicted of felony sexual abuse.
Beshear has taken action on behalf of 747 released convicts since March, when he streamlined the process for felons seeking to have their civil rights restored.
"Those whose rights have been restored have served their time
and paid their debt to society," Beshear said in a written statement. "The primary goal of the corrections system is to
rehabilitate those who have committed crimes and return them as
contributing members to society."
In Kentucky, convicted felons permanently lose their civil rights unless the governor intervenes.
To make it easier to regain voting privileges, Beshear dropped
requirements that felons submit three letters of recommendation and
write essays explaining why their requests should be granted.
Some prosecutors object to granting the partial pardons to people convicted of violent crimes.
"In my mind, I never believed those would be the types of people who would be given serious consideration," said prosecutor Linda Tally Smith, former president of the Kentucky Commonwealth's Attorney's Association. "I would think the person who fell victim to these offenders would expect they would continue to be treated as the violent offenders that they are."
In his partial pardons, Beshear restored only the right to vote and hold public office. He did not restore the right to possess weapons or to serve on juries.
Beshear spokesman Dick Brown said Kentucky governors have been granting partial pardons for years. Beshear's predecessor, former
Gov. Ernie Fletcher, issued more than 1,000 during his four-year term that ended last year.
Brown said Beshear has taken an extra step, extending the period
for prosecutors to object to a request from 15 to 30 days. So far, 56 felons seeking to have their rights restored were denied when prosecutors intervened, Brown said.
Ryan King, a policy analyst for The Sentencing Project in Washington, said Kentucky is one of 10 states in which a felony conviction can result in a lifetime loss of voting rights. The others are Alabama, Arizona, Delaware, Florida, Mississippi, Nevada, Tennessee, Virginia and Wyoming.
"It's our position that one's criminal history should have no bearing on one's right to participate in a Democratic society," King said. "We believe voting is a fundamental element of any democracy."
Beshear, speaking to reporters in March, said that's also his position. He said the process had become unwieldy and time-consuming to the point of discouraging felons from applying.
Kentucky and Virginia, King said, have the most restrictive process for restoring the right to vote or hold office.
Gordon Hickey, spokesman for Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine, said the
state's policy calls for each violent offender to supply three letters of recommendation, proof of payment of all court costs and fines, and a letter from a probation officer. An applicant must also submit a letter explaining the circumstances of arrest and detailing how his or her life has changed. Applicants must have spotless records for at least five years before requesting partial pardons.
"It is a strenuous process," he said.
In Alabama, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit last week asking that convicted felons be allowed the right to vote unless they were convicted of one of 15 crimes - including murder, treason and some sex crimes - cited in state law as reasons for denial.
In Florida, more than 115,000 former felons who completed their
sentences have had their civil rights restored since a new state rule went into effect last year. The rule restored rights almost automatically, ending a policy of requiring the Board of Executive Clemency to act individually on every restoration of rights request.
Some Kentucky lawmakers have been pushing for a constitutional
amendment under which some felons would automatically have their
right to vote and serve in public office restored after they complete their sentences. Those convicted of murder or sex offenses would have been excluded under the measure that passed the House only to die in the Senate.
If it had passed, the measure would have been put on the ballot
for Kentucky voters to ratify or reject.
State Rep. Jessie Crenshaw, D-Lexington, has pushed the legislation in each of the past three sessions. While it failed each time, Crenshaw said support seems to be growing.
"It is a controversial issue," Crenshaw said.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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  • by Earwig Location: Prestonsburg on Jul 31, 2008 at 08:40 PM
    King says in this story that voting is a fundamental element to democracy...well the right to not be the victum of a crime is a fundamental element of democracy....don't reward the criminals!!!
  • by Bart Location: Harrodsburg on Jul 31, 2008 at 03:01 PM
    Why don't some of you actually read the story? These are people who had already completed their sentences in some cases decades ago. Their records were not cleared, they were just given back the right to vote. The rapists also included statutory rape, and the prosecuting attorneys had the chance to challenge the restoration of civil rights. In the cases that the prosecutor did, restoration was withheld. Taking away the right to vote is hardly a deterrent. Just the fact that these people took the time to ask to be allowed to vote means something. I wish that everyone would take that right so seriously.
  • by Mom Location: KY on Jul 31, 2008 at 11:09 AM
    Sounds like we need Steve in office-at least he is making some sense here.
  • by steve Location: Lexington on Jul 31, 2008 at 09:59 AM
    Our fine Governor has done it again. This decision to let the scum of the earth out of jail early earns Beshear the top honor for Governor of the Year (for scumbags).
  • by wow Location: ky on Jul 31, 2008 at 05:35 AM
    why dont our gov.steve beshear just open up the gate and let them all out and let them live with him.we sure dont want them in our area.looks like we dont have any use for any one to be elected to serve anymore just let us take care of ourselves.and to squidville obammie is the only choice since they put hillary out of the race.we sure dont need another bush.seems like us hillbillys are as bad as the rest of them.
  • by R U Kidding Me? Location: Richmond on Jul 30, 2008 at 08:53 PM
    I could see pardoning those who've served their time for "minor crimes" such as stealing, or possibly drugs as a person CAN come back from something of that nature and be a productive member of society with lessons learned.. but rapists and murderers?!
  • by Anonymous on Jul 30, 2008 at 05:43 PM
    Kentucky land of child abusers, murders, sex offenders and thiefs run by a crooked Gov.
  • by Chairman Location: Murders and Rapists Party on Jul 30, 2008 at 02:12 PM
    Need I say more, thank you governor for the new members.
  • by Steve Location: Lexington on Jul 30, 2008 at 01:44 PM
    Get off the Gov's back...good 'ol Ernie pardoned over 1000 while he was in's no different. It's not the Governor, it's the system in general that allows this. If the stupid people of this state would wake themselves up and vote out EVERY INCUMBENT for the next 6 years, then you would see changes. But as long as you vote for "old so and so" just because "I know his name", then you get what you ask for...more of the same and nothing will ever change, so stop griping unless you are willing to do what I plan on doing for the next 5 or 6 years, which is to vote against everyone who is already in office, until we get all new people in our executive and legislative branches of government.
  • by Eraly Cuyler Location: Squidville on Jul 30, 2008 at 11:21 AM
    Well, you folks who voted for Montie Burns for Guv are getting just what you deserve. Wake up before you pull the lever for that fake Obammie in November. Please!
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