AZ Governor Overhauls Clemency Board; Longtime Chairman Is Bounced


Gov. Jan Brewer has overhauled Arizona’s five-member board that often is the last chance for death-row inmates to seek mercy, reports the Associated Press. The outgoing members have a reputation among prosecutors, defense attorneys and anti-death-penalty advocates for being fair and open-minded, especially its now-former chairman and executive director, Duane Belcher. He had been on the board since 1992 after first being appointed by then-Gov. Fife Symington, a Republican. He was reappointed in 2003 by then-Gov. Janet Napolitano, a Democrat.

Although Belcher reapplied to the board after his term expired, Belcher said the board’s nominating committee declined to interview him. “I was told that they were going in a different direction and that I’m not included in that,” he said. He was replaced by Jesse Hernandez, utreach and government affairs director for Republican Rep. David Schweikert and founder of the Arizona Latino Republican Association. The other two outgoing board members are Marilyn Wilkens and Ellen Kirschbaum, both appointed to the board in 2010 by Brewer. They are replaced by Brian Livingston, executive director of the Arizona Police Association and a former longtime Phoenix police officer, and Melvin Thomas, former warden of a private Arizona prison that houses inmates convicted of drunken driving.

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