Cross Posted at Legal Schnauzer
President Barack Obama recently praised the Philadelphia Eagles football team for signing quarterback Michael Vick after his release from prison on federal convictions related to a dog-fighting operation.
Obama's words about the challenges faced by former prisoners are thoughtful. But when taken in conjunction with his actions and inactions as president, they reveal a thought process that seems wildly off kilter.
On one hand, Obama says he is concerned that former prisoners "never get a fair second chance." On the other hand, Obama has shown that he is not the least bit concerned about the plight of those who have been wrongfully imprisoned because of Bush-era political prosecutions. Thanks to his "look forward, not backwards" approach to the apparent crimes of Bush-administration officials, Obama essentially is telling victims of wrongful prosecutions, "Tough, get over it."
We have a president who, correctly, is concerned about the rights of prisoners who have paid their debt to society. But the same president does not seem to care about the rights of people who never should have been in prison in the first place.
As a resident of Alabama, "Ground Zero" for Bush-era shenanigans, I know this is not just a theoretical exercise. I know of at least four people who unquestionably are wrongfully imprisoned, in America, at this moment. I'm talking about Richard Scrushy, codefendant in the prosecution of former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman, and three defendants (Paul Minor, Wes Teel, and John Whitfield) in the Paul Minor prosecution next door in Mississippi.
If Siegelman himself returns to prison, after his appeals are exhausted, that will make five known political prisoners based on bogus federal prosecutions brought in just two states.