Silver Spring, MD (BlackNews.com) – The author of the first play ever written about Marcus Garvey found that pardoning convicted citizens posthumously is not so uncommon a practice.
Writer Barry Beckham discovered the practice after he researched the situation of the black activist whose family has asked President Obama to pardon Garvey for the conviction of mail fraud he faced in 1922. Garvey died in 1940. Beckham wrote Garvey Lives!, which had its premier production at Brown University in 1972. This month he plans to release through his publishing company an eBook version of the play script that includes original program material.
He found a paper written by University of Colorado Professor Stephen Greenspan that describes 20 cases from as early as 1893 which illustrate why restoring the good name of a dead person is often a desirable, indeed necessary, policy. And often relief is especially needed when the person died as the direct result of a miscarriage of justice.
I couldnt escape the connection between my play about Garvey and the now reasonable request of a presidential pardon, says Beckham. So, he put together a list of five examples drawn from Greenspans paper of how felons were pardoned posthumously.
- In 2011, Governor Bill Ritter granted a posthumous pardon to mentally deficient Joe Arridy, who was executed in 1939 at the age of 23 for rape and murder of a 16-year-old girl.
- In 2010, Governor Charlie Christ recommended, and the Florida Clemency Board granted, a pardon to Jim Morrison, of the rock band The Doors for two 1969 misdemeanor convictions.
- In 2009, the South Carolina Parole and Pardons Board unanimously granted a posthumous pardon to Thomas and Meeks Griffin, two African-American brothers who were executed in 1915 for a crime of which they are now believed to be innocent.
- In 2008, President George W. Bush granted a posthumous pardon to Charles Winters, a Florida resident who died in 1984 and had served 18 months in prison for violating the Neutrality Act of 1939 by smuggling bombers to the new state of Israel.
- In 2003 Governor George Pataki granted a posthumous pardon to comedian Lenny Bruce for an obscenity conviction in 1964. Bruce died of a drug overdose in 1966 before he could appeal.
About Beckham Publications Group
Beckham Publications Group, Inc. (www.beckhamhouse.com) is a major Internet publisher founded by Barry Beckham and specializing in cutting edge and multicultural titles.
About Barry Beckham
Barry Beckham is an innovative prose writer who has published novels and educational titles and written for major publications like The New York Times, Black Enterprise, and Esquire. Visit him on Facebook at www.facebook.com/barry.beckham. He was director of the graduate writing program at Brown University where he taught for 17 years.