Friday, September 2, 2011

So? What's Your Point?

Alas, we're back to that.
As the powers that be try to convince Judge Frost that they'll actually obey they'll actually obey their new protocol despite years (and piles of bodies) ignoring the old ones, the Parole Board issued its report and recommendation in Billy Slagle's case.  Slagle's been sitting on death row for 23 years, sentenced for the murder of Mari Anne Pope 24 years ago.  The Board was unanimous.
  • He should be killed.
  • The mitigation was examined at trial.
  • The aggravating factors outweigh it.
  • He's not a nice guy.
  • He did other bad things before he killed Pope.
  • He may not have gotten in trouble in prison, but he didn't cure cancer, either.
All right.  You got me.  They didn't say the part about his not curing cancer.  But it's true.  He didn't.
Here's what they did say.
Slagle has presented no new reasons as to why clemency should be recommended.   The jury, trial judge and appeals courts have considered the mitigation and arguments and have concluded that the death penalty is appropriate.  The Board finds no reason to recommend an alternate penalty.
Because there's no error to correct.
He's not, after all, factually innocent.
And regardless of whether they mentioned it, he hasn't cured cancer since he's been on the row.
I'm getting to be a broken record here (or Groundhog Day for those of you too young to remember what happened when a record got scratched), but this is nonsense.
Sure, if there's an error to correct, the Board should urge the Governor to correct it.  But if all the Board does is look for mistakes (you know, check to make sure that he isn't about to be executed after the "jury, trial judge and appeals courts" decided that death was inappropriate and he shouldn't have a death sentence), then it's missing the point.
I keep saying that clemency is about us, not them.  I keep saying that this is about mercy and that nobody (none of us) deserves mercy.  (Well, maybe the guy who cures cancer; no, probably not even he.)
Joe Wilhelm, who presented Slagle's case to the Board, talked about mercy.
Attorney Wilhelm stated that they are not questioning the conviction.  They are asking for mercy and that mercy should be considered in light of Slagle's background.
. . .
Attorney Wilhelm closed by reminding the Board that this hearing is an appeal for mercy and that it should not be a rubber stamp of legal appeals, and that there must be room for mercy in our justice system.  Society places a lot of emphasis on a desire to protect children.  Slagle was failed in that regard, and is deserving of mercy.
Which comes close to the point I keep making.  But the Board was no more inclined to hear Joe's pitch for mercy deserved than it is to buy into mine for mercy unmerited.
Because, if we needed another reminder, they don't believe in mercy.
Which is really, and sadly, the point.
Mari Anne Pope - Murdered, August 13, 1987
Billy Slagle - Murder scheduled, September 20, 2011

Slagle Clemency

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