It is misleading to describe this story as a Democratic governor letting an convicted armed robber escape punishment so he can stay in the US, though that is how it is being reported.
The world has gone mad, but the pardon issued to convicted bank robber Rene Lima-Marinby by Governor John Hickenlooper isn’t necessarily proof of that, though Lima-Marinby’s weird story is.
He came to the U.S. as a toddler in the 1980 Mariel boat lift from Cuba, and had obtained legal residency. His 2000 criminal conviction for armed robbery when he was 19 caused that status to be revoked. Lima-Marin was sentenced to 98 years in prison for the robbery.
Let me pause. He was 19, and they sentenced him to 98 years in prison.
Then he was mistakenly paroled from Colorado state prison in 2008, 90 years early. I’ve written about these cases before. I hate them. Releasing a prisoner then coming back years later and saying, “Oopsie! Sorry! Our bad! Back you go!” turns a gaffe into cruel and unusual punishment. Unless a prisoner is a serial killer or a terrorist or breaks the law after he is released, the authorities should bear the burden of such incompetence, and any early release should stand.
Lima-Marin is a good example of why this should be the practice. he married, had a child and got a steady job installing glass. It took six years for the state authorities to discover their mistake, and in 2014 they sent him back to state prison for the remainder of his 98-year sentence.
Last week, a Colorado judge ordered Lima-Marin released from state prison, saying it would be “draconian” to keep him incarcerated. The judge was correct. But then ICE arrested Lima-Marin, citing a still-active deportation order stemming from his conviction in 2000. He is facing deportation to Cuba, or in other words, Hell.
98 members of the state Assembly, Democrats and Republicans, as well as this poor guy’s lawyer called on Hickenlooper to pardon him as his best chance of avoiding that fate, and the governor did.
“This was a question of justice,” Gov. Hickenlooper told an afternoon news conference. “This was a pretty clear example of someone who’s done all the work necessary to earn a second chance.”
This is a close call for me. I might have pardoned Lima-Marin myself. He was not a wilful illegal immigrant, since he was brought into the country as a child. His country of origin wasn’t Mexico, it was an island prison camp, under a dictatorship, and his parents were refugees. I have no problem with revoking his legal status as a result of a major felony conviction, but the sentence was excessive for a young man still in his teens. The premature release was not his fault, and he made the most of it. Yes, he should have pursued legalized status, but the Obama administration had sent the message that he didn’t have to. Then the incompetent authorities in Colorado tossed him back in prison, a judge took two years to reverse that action, and now he risks being sent to a miserable Communist country (well, Michael Moore likes it) where he’s never lived.
Why don’t they just shoot him?
Even with the pardon, it is unclear whether Hickenlooper’s pardon can stop Lima-Marin’s deportation. I don’t see the governor’s action as an effort to thwart immigration enforcement. I take it as an acknowledgment that his state made Lima-Marin’s life even more of a mess than his crime warranted, and in the interest of justice, equity and fairness, he deserves a break. I admit, Red’s statement to the parole board in “The Shawshank Redemption” may have influenced me.
What do you think?
Source: Denver Post