It’s pretty much an American tradition that when a President leaves office he pardons a whole lot of people who were convicted of crimes. I don’t have the time today to research the history of this tradition, but since there will be many more pardons to come, perhaps I can pull something together before G.W.’s out of office.
This practice has always reinforced to me the American way of “it’s who you know, and how much you can pay.” I mean, really. Our prison system is full of innocent people, of course. Or people who made one bad decision, or people who were forced into a situation simply because of circumstance. But they don’t get a pardon.
But every few years a handful of average people do, which makes me wonder about the the backstory of these folks, pardoned late last night by President Bush:
- Andrew Foster Harley of Falls Church, Virginia, convicted of wrongful use and distribution of marijuana and cocaine during a general court martial at the US Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs.
I mean, really — during a general court martial?! ” It was a accident, yer Honor! She said her name was Mary Jane!”
- Obie Gene Helton of Rossville, Georgia, sentenced to two years’ probation in April 1983 for unauthorised acquisition of food stamps.
Two years of probation seems pretty reasonable for this offense. I mean, someone else’s babies could have probably used those food stamps, ya know?
- Carey C. Hice Sr. of Travelers Rest, South Carolina, convicted 12 years ago of income tax evasion and sentenced to 120 days of home confinement.
Again, no actual prison time. In fact, not paying taxes and spending 120 days at home sounds pretty nice to me. Does crime pay, after all?
- Paul Julian McCurdy of Sulphur, Oklahoma, who was sentenced to five years’ probation in 1988 of misapplication of $112,000 of bank funds.
“Misapplication?” That’s rich. I’ll have to remember that excuse.
- Daniel Figh Pue III, a former production superintendant from Conroe Creosoting in Conroe, Texas, convicted of of illegally transporting and dumping more than 1,500 gallons of hazardous creosote sludge in a ditch.
Again, “I swear — it was a accident. I thought I was allowed to dump hazardous waste into a ditch. I promise I’ll never do it again, yer Honor.”
Petty crimes, by probably rather petty people. But now their records are clean and they have been forgiven for their crimes. Good lawyers and political connections — the American way.