Sarah Huckabee Sanders Pardons Turkey but Denies Clemency for Wrongly Imprisoned Man

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Charlie Vaughn has been imprisoned for 32 years for a homicide another person confessed to.

‘Tis the season for politicians to spend an hour in front of cameras with turkeys. Two turkeys from a Hormel subsidiary in Minnesota were apparently shipped to Washington D.C. in a stretch black Cadillac Escalade for their White House pardoning ceremony. At a library in the tiny Texas city of Van, the mayor appointed a bird named Dolly Pardon to be a city ambassador. And in Arkansas on Friday morning, the turkeys sat motionless on a table littered with fake leaves while Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders gave a speech granting them clemency.

But in the case of Sanders, what might seem like a lighthearted political stunt is much darker when you consider the context, the Arkansas Times pointed out this week. Earlier this month, Sanders denied a request for executive clemency for a man with severe developmental disabilities who has spent 32 years in state prison for crime he almost certainly did not commit, according to an investigation by journalist Radley Balko. 

Charlie Vaughn was one of four men convicted for the 1988 murder of 81-year-old Myrtle Holmes. According to Balko, Vaughn was held in jail for a year and insisted on his innocence before a publicly assigned attorney advised him to confess in order to avoid the death penalty. Vaughn’s confession contradicted the information of the crime, but the choose sentenced him to life in jail anyway, commenting, “I’m sure that some governor somewhere down the road will reduce the sentence or commute it to a term of years.”

Decades later, one other one of many 4, Reginald Early, confessed to the crime and insisted he had acted alone. As a end result, the 2 different suspects had their convictions overturned, but as a result of Vaughn—imprisoned, illiterate, and with out an lawyer—didn’t file a declare inside a 12 months, the state argued that he couldn’t profit from the brand new proof. Federal courts rejected Vaughn’s appeals to be freed. Last 12 months, the Arkansas Parole Board rejected his petition. 

Vaughn’s lawyer instructed Balko he obtained no clarification for why the Sanders rejected Vaughn’s clemency petition. Unless the Arkansas Supreme Court grants a habeas petition from Vaughn—an unlikely occasion—his best hope for launch from jail is to reapply for clemency in six extra years.

Sanders, in the meantime, is spending her time pushing to increasing her state’s carceral system. The morning earlier than her turkey pardoning ceremony, she known as on the state Board of Corrections to approve 500 additional prison beds, claiming that that Arkansas had weak penalties for violent crime and required area to lock up an extra 2,000 folks.

If each US state had been a rustic, Arkansas would have the Eleventh-highest incarceration price on this planet, in accordance with the Prison Policy Initiative

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