120123ChandlerSept. 2, 2013

“That power (of clemency), which the Constitution explicitly grants to the president, has always served as an indispensable check on the injustices of the legal system and as a means of demonstrating forgiveness where it is called for. It was once used freely; presidents issued more than 10,000 grants of clemency between 1885 and 1930 alone. But mercy is a four-letter word in an era when politicians have competed to see who can be toughest on crime….

“Meanwhile, President Obama’s use of the pardon power remains historically low. In four and a half years, he has received almost 10,000 applications for clemency and has granted just 39 pardons and one sentence commutation. No one seems to know why some requests are granted and others denied….”

– From “Pardon Rates Remain Low,” editorial in the New York Times (Aug. 21, 2013

Pardons have become scarce in North Carolina as well. In her last week as governor, Bev Perdue pardoned the Wilmington 10, but not the Edenton Seven – or anyone else, for that matter.

Perdue left office without commenting on the dozens of clemency applications still on her desk.  (Her willingness to forgive contrasts with that of previous governors, most dramatically Charles Brantley Aycock, who between 1901 and 1905 granted no fewer than 369 pardons.)

Among those applications Perdue didn’t address was Junior Chandler’s.

Now there’s a new governor, and Junior’s brother Billy tells me a renewed effort is being made to obtain clemency. Even if Junior were guilty – which he obviously isn’t – shouldn’t 26 years behind bars be punishment enough?