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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Clemency secrecy: an accident waiting to happen?

Mix pardons and obsessive secrecy, and my argument is that a train wreck is waiting to happen...and whatever happened to the expectation of privacy diminishing a bit when people are...in jail?

A board appointed by Gov. Rod Blagojevich has done an about-face and refuses to release details surrounding the people whose criminal pasts he's pardoned.

The Prisoner Review Board told the Chicago Sun-Times it would be an "unwarranted invasion of personal privacy" to let the newspaper view the contents of the files of 69 people Blagojevich has pardoned since 2003.

That's a reversal from 2003, when the board publicly disclosed most information in executive clemency files. The board also allowed public access to clemency files when former Gov. George Ryan commuted the sentences of 167 death row inmates in 2003.

Blagojevich spokeswoman Abby Ottenhoff declined to discuss the matter, saying it was a Prisoner Review Board decision. Blagojevich appoints the board's members...

The closed-file policy is "really troubling," said Charles Davis, executive director of the National Freedom of Information Coalition.

"That could just be rife with corruption," Davis said. "It's a favor-creating machine."

More here.

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