No Excuse for Pardon
New York Daily News
May 28, 2008
Rapper Ricky (Slick Rick) Walters has come a long way since he shot two men in the Bronx in 1991 and served five years on a guilty plea to attempted murder. He is, by all accounts, a reformed man who counsels youth to avoid violence.
And Gov. Paterson has exercised an extraordinary power — pardon power — to help Walters avoid deportation to Britain, the country of his birth.
Paterson erred. Gubernatorial pardons are properly used for correcting miscarriages of justice, such as former Gov. George Pataki's posthumous exoneration of comedian Lenny Bruce on an unwarranted obscenity conviction.
Pardons are not intended to help felons escape the consequences of their actions — except where they are grossly excessive. That's not so with Walters, who long battled deportation and will use the pardon to aid his fight.
Yes, he'd be returned to a country he left at age 11, and his wife and two teenage children would suffer hardships. But so do the families of thousands of immigrants who are deported based on criminal convictions without having the celebrity and resources to convince a governor that they deserve breaks, too.