Wednesday, April 8, 2009

"Another Commutation," Opinion, Detroit Free Press

The Detroit Free Press
April 8, 2009

We are grateful for Jeff Gerritt's column on parolee Mike Chegwidden ("A forsaken dream leaves Michigan parolee on ice," March 26). Gerritt allowed Chegwidden space to acknowledge the "one poor choice" he made when he was 16 years old. It is clear, however, that the sentence Chegwidden was given was indeed "ridiculously harsh" and justice was better served in the commutation he received from Gov. Jennifer Granholm last year.

Gerritt also alluded to the many more cases that need to be looked at. We would like to draw readers' attention to one case that Gerritt reported on last year. We refer to the case of Efren Paredes, Jr. ("Justice makes case for commutations," Dec. 11).

From sources we consider credible, we believe that Paredes was in all likelihood not guilty. From our background in human rights issues, we know that he should not have been sentenced as a juvenile to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. From his stellar educational, employment and personal good conduct record in jail, we are confident he will have an excellent chance of leading a good, productive life if he is released.

Paredes' case was reviewed by the Michigan Board of Pardons and Paroles several months ago. We hope that the board will make the wise and just recommendation to commute his sentence in as timely a manner as possible.

Ken and Geraldine Grunow
Coordinators, Detroit Chapter
Amnesty International U.S.A.


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