Sunday, January 29, 2012

Redemption Rescinded?

The pardons by out-going Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour have touched on issues around the nature of redemption and mercy for the U.S. which has one of the highest incarceration rates in the world, reported the Christian Science Monitor.

In Mississippi, the debate has been overshadowed by the disappearance of Joseph Ozment's. He was one of five governor mansion trustees pardoned by the governor. Trustees are prisoners who upkeep the mansion and grounds for meager prison wages. Ozment was convicted of the point-blank execution-style shooting of a store clerk in 1992 convenience store robbery near DeSoto, MS.

According to testimony, Ozment fired the fatal two shots at the clerk as he crawled across the store's floor. At the time, Ozment testified he feared the clerk would be able to identify him. He was serving a life sentence.

While the four other former mansion trustees that were released have checked back in with the judge, and vowed to maintain daily contact, Ozment has disappeared.

Attorney General Jim Hood called Barbour's mass pardons “a slap to the face” of victims and the judicial system. He is offering a reward for information that helps locate Ozment who was last seen in northwest Mississippi, reported the Christian Science Monitor.

The search has raised unprecedented issues, including the extent to which the state can legally force Ozment, who's not wanted for any crime and now has a clean criminal record, to report to a judge.

I examined an issue of redemption through expungement of criminal records. Read my blog The Cautionary Instruction, Another Look at Legislating Redemption.

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