Pardon Me


Women walk along a corridor at the Los Angeles County women's jail in Lynwood, California April 26, 2013. The Second Chance Women's Re-entry Court is one of the first in the U.S. to focus on women, and offers a cost-saving alternative to prison for women who plead guilty to non-violent crimes and volunteer for treatment. Of the 297 women who have been through the court since 2007, 100 have graduated, and only 35 have been returned to state prison. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson (UNITED STATES - Tags: CRIME LAW) - RTXZ1G4

A man was starving in Capri;

He moved his eyes and looked at me;

I felt his gaze, I heard his moan,

And knew his hunger as my own.

— from Edna St. Vincent Millay’s Renascence

A pardon is an executive forgiveness of crime; commutation is an executive lowering of a given penalty. A pardon wipes out the conviction while a commutation leaves the conviction intact but wipes out the punishment. Commutation is a form of clemency, used often by governors.

After looking at the website for the California Coalition of Women Prisoners, I wrote to their general contact email. Seems like anyone with half a brain and/or an ounce of compassion in their blood and bones would want at least some of the sentences that have been imposed to be commuted. At the very least.

But the Beast Who Rules won’t have it. And I can tell the women fighting the good fight they’re waging with their missives to Governor Brown of the so-called Golden State that… they better not hold their breath for him to do the decent thing that he should. It should be understood by activists — but it is not! — that career politicians (by definition) are too self-serving for the Collective Good. And so… humane petitions submitted cannot override the inhuman drive for personal advancement on the part of politicians. Meaning, any petition submitted needs to be supplemented with something; the reader can glance at what I attempted to do on behalf of Troy Davis a few years ago by reading a recent piece of mine.

I titled this article the way I did because I truly believe in the mantra, O bailan todos o no baile nadie. As long as someone is being tortured I am being tortured. That’s kind of a spiritual statement. But on the mundane plane, it should be obvious to anyone paying attention to current events that (vis-a-vis blowback) no one in a gated community on a high hill or hiding behind arbitrary national boundaries is going to be able to dance while others are kept off of the dance floor and denied food on a toxic periphery.

Freedom for all must reign.

A hard rain’s gonna fall unless some reader deigns to get off of their treadmill and interact with me or someone else following a fresh paradigm for movement in solidarity. That’s not being done anywhere in the country with respect to the issues which are most dear to my heart at present. All activist agendas, for me, are locked onto some sort of treadmill, not really open to fresh ideas. Too much on the run. An obsession with fund raising is often to be blamed for the truly  parsimonious use of heartbeats, the insistence on exclusive attention to what’s in gear… even when a fresh face with worthy new inspiration comes near.

The thing is, the fears of the incarcerated and their loved ones — having to do with no relief in sight — can be blended with the concerns of others’ interests. Meaning, if one’s pet priority has to do with, say, animal torture on university campuses in California, or inaction with regard to shelter for the homeless during cold winters… well, people should be informed that a governor in California (with heart, head and soul in a healthy place) — as Head of the Regents of the University of California’s 26 campuses — could easily commute, pardon, and — simultaneously — terminate animal experimentation and provide housing for thousands living on the street. And do much more.

Without any new legislation having to come down the pike. Without so much as having to have a discussion with gangster (or unfeeling) politicians.

By virtue of her/his de facto influence among the Regents, an executive could unilaterally and virtually overnight transform life for ALL Californians, and send positive ripples nationwide, encouraging others elsewhere to do the same.

Please contact me so that I can walk you through the necessary steps for making this miracle happen. It’s definitely worth the candle.

God helps those who help themselves.

Even an atheist should be able to embrace that thought. Everyone, yes?

Contact Rachel Oxman at [email protected]… for everyone.




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