In an exclusive interview on Hawaii Reporter Television today, former Governor Ben Cayetano blasts Pacific Resource Partnership for its latest attack ad targeting his record as governor.
He said the new TV commercial falsely accuses him of endangering public safety by recklessly pardoning more prisoners than any other Hawaii Governor.
What the ad does not disclose, Cayetano said, is he had 397 applications – that is more pardon applications than any other governor in the state’s history.
During his eight years as Hawaii’s chief executive, Cayetano pardoned 51 percent of the cases presented to him.
No other Democrat governor had a percentage that low: Gov. John Waihee’s percentage was 72 percent of the requests, Gov. John Burns was at 70 percent of the requests and Gov. George Ariyoshi was at 67 percent of applicants.
Gov. Linda Lingle, a Republican governor of Hawaii from 2002 to 2010, was at 22 percent, Cayetano said.
The Governor said virtually every pardon was recommended to him by various parties including the attorney general, Hawaii Paroling Authority and other public safety officials.
“Each pardon was granted after a careful review process and often applicants were of an advanced age and sometimes terminally ill. Some of the inmates were pardoned after release from prison when they had already served their sentences. Many asked for pardons in order to obtain employment and I granted this to them,” Cayetano said.
“Many of the pardons also came at a time when our prisons were overcrowded and we were spending millions of tax dollars housing inmates at mainland facilities,” Cayetano said.
There was an incentive for the state to release non-violent offenders who were unlikely to endanger the public, Cayetano said, because the prisons were over flowing and the Legislature did not provide funding to build more prison space.
Cayetano criticized PRP for “attempting to instill fear into the public” by running ads that condemn him for pardoning individuals convicted of “homicide” and “rape”, when in fact these individuals were convicted of negligent homicide from drunk driving or statutory rape.
Finally he notes that as mayor, he will have nothing to do with pardoning any prisoners. That is the job of a governor, not a mayor, he said.
“I won’t be pardoning anyone as Mayor,” he said. “It’s not part of the job description”.
The Governor said he proudly stands by his record as both “a guardian of public safety and a compassionate Chief Executive Officer.”