Attention Texas voters: Please vote FOR Prop. 9

I don’t ask this kind of thing very often of my readership. But if you live in Texas and you are registered to vote, I would really appreciate it if you’d vote FOR Proposition 9. I’ll explain why.

I commented on the case of Dale Lincoln Duke in my previous post. I mentioned again, at the end, how Dale got a 20 year prison sentence on a revocation of a 10 year deferred adjudication. This is the very real peril of a deferred adjudication sentence: it is relatively risk free for the prosecution and the judge unless the defendant re-offends in a particularly egregious manner, because the judge can always sentence the defendant to the maximum sentence after imposing a conviction. Worse, a particularly cruel judge can extend probation to the maximum allowed by law, then impose a maximum sentence. Judges can even revoke probation for relatively arbitrary reasons that most sane people would consider galactically stupid.

Now, the flip side of deferred adjudication is that the defendant is supposed to have no record of the offense on completion of the sentence. Well, it turns out this isn’t exactly true. Even if the defendant completes the sentence successfully, he/she still has to apply for an order of non-disclosure (OND). (And some offenses are actually not eligible for an OND.) For at least the first two or five years after the sentence is completed, he/she will still have what they call a record of the arrest until the OND is granted. I’m going to call this arrest record what it actually should be called, a “looks-like-a-conviction.” Actually, in effect it’s still a conviction to just about everyone who would run a background check. It’s certainly still a conviction as far as Federal guidelines go (which I think is also a load of bovine excrement, and which I will probably discuss in a later post). This “looks-like-a-conviction” is only truly not a conviction in three cases:

  1. the right to vote (for what it’s worth);
  2. the right to serve on a jury (which, actually, many people will read as a loss of the “right” to get a free pass out of jury duty);
  3. applying for a pardon (because there’s no conviction, there’s nothing to pardon).
    That’s where Proposition 9 comes in, because #3 above should not be there and is an unfortunate consequence of laws written prior to deferred adjudication. Is it really fair for someone to be given something that looks like a conviction, walks like a conviction, and quacks like a conviction, except all of a sudden it’s not a conviction when it comes time to ask for a pardon?

Note that Proposition 9 does not automatically grant pardons to anyone. They still have to be requested and clear the Board of Pardons and Paroles and the governor the same as before. What Proposition 9 does do, is realize this post-deferred-adjudication “arrest record” passes the duck test for a conviction and allows one in this situation to be pardoned the same way as someone with an actual conviction.

While it is not perfect, I believe this to be a huge step in the right direction for justice. Please, vote for justice, vote for Proposition 9.

(This is not a political advertisement by any third party, merely my own personal view. This blog has been paid for out of my own personal funds, as always.)