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|Edwards has served long enough|
In the coming months President Bush will decide whether more than 2,000 individuals who have been convicted of federal crimes should be pardoned or have their sentences commuted.
Former Gov. Edwin Edwards is one of them. He asked the president to commute the 10-year sentence he was given for having been found guilty of manipulating the riverboat gaming licensing process in Louisiana.
Convicted some eight years ago, Edwards is eligible to be released from a federal prison at Oakdale on July 6, 2011, or after serving some 85 percent of his 10-year sentence. Federal prisoners are granted a reduction in their sentences for good behavior. That's where the 85-percent figure comes into play.
The other men who were convicted with Edwards in federal court in Baton Rouge in 2000 were Edwards' son Stephen, Cecil Brown, Bobby Johnson and Andrew Martin. All of them, except Edwards of course, are free men today. They served their time and have moved on with their lives.
But Edwards, who will turn 81 years of age Aug. 7, remains in prison.
We have always questioned how and why a jury convicted Edwards of manipulating the riverboat licensing process since Edwards was not serving as governor when the alleged crimes occurred. In other words, what influence did Edwards possess to influence the riverboat gaming board's decisions in granting licenses for gambling companies to operate in Louisiana?
Yet, we recognize it serves no purpose at this time to rehash or revisit the government's case against Edwards.
Instead, we encourage President Bush to show some compassion by granting Edwards' request for a commutation. We also encourage the president to recognize that it is two of Edwards' political foes from the past who are leading the charge to have Edwards' sentence commuted. Those men are former U.S. Sen. J. Bennett Johnston, a Democrat like Edwards, and former Gov. Dave Treen, a Republican.
Remember, it was Johnston who Edwards defeated for the Democratic Party nomination in the 1971 governor's race. And it was Treen who Edwards defeated in the 1983 governor's race.
Obviously, Johnston and Treen recognize—as we do—that Edwards has been punished, or has suffered, enough.
He should be set free.
Yes, Edwards should be freed so he can spend the time he has left on this earth with his family and friends.
It's the humane thing to do.