Baker’s Parole Board stalls clemency process


August 13, 2020
The Boston Globe
By the Editorial Board

Pardons and commutations can serve as motivators for imprisoned people to self-improve. But the state board has held zero hearings to grant them since 2015.

The State Parole Board serves as one of the gatekeepers of the criminal justice system, especially on thorny issues of pardons and commutations. But what happens if that “gate” is perpetually locked? What if petitions for gubernatorial clemency just keep piling up in some never-ending inbox — the pleas unheard, the cases in legal limbo, neither denied nor moved along to the governor’s desk?

At a time when social justice and racial justice are at the forefront of both the state and national agendas, one of the few avenues for righting wrongs and for giving people a second chance remains unused, virtually abandoned by the seven people charged with administering the system.

That is, in a word, shameful. It’s also a direct contradiction of everything that Baker said in his Executive Clemency Guidelines issued just last February.

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