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Same old double standard in Parson commutation for ex-Chiefs assistant coach Britt Reid | Opinion

On Missouri Gov. Mike Parson’s official Facebook page, reaction to his commutation of the sentence of former Kansas City Chiefs assistant coach Britt Reid, who permanently injured a 5-year-old while driving drunk, was justifiably brutal.

“Enjoy the season tickets Mike,” said one commenter.

“A Tale of Two Justice Systems,” said another. “Execute potentially innocent people and give cronies … house arrest.”

Parson, whose whole political career is based on his years as a tough-on-crime sheriff in Polk County, has shown again and again that his toughness, like that of the criminal justice system itself, depends on the person who has been accused or convicted.

For a high-profile offender like Reid, who was sentenced to three years in prison a little over a year ago, mercy is an option.

Parson spokesman Johnathan Shiflett said the governor was commuting the sentence because “Mr. Reid has completed his alcohol abuse treatment program and has served more prison time than most individuals convicted of similar offenses.”

Oh, so now the governor is looking at commuting the sentences of others who have completed their treatment programs? If only.

Or of those who’ve served more time than others in their situation? Don’t be silly.

Parson is simply continuing the tradition of favoring those who least need his help, because the system already works so much better for those who can afford the best lawyers.

He was proud to pardon his fellow Republicans Mark and Patricia McCloskey, who became conservative heroes after waving guns at Black Lives Matter protesters outside their home in St. Louis.

And he is reportedly still mulling pardoning or commuting the sentence of Eric DeValkenaere, the only former KCPD officer ever convicted of killing a Black man.

But when begged to pardon Kevin Strickland, who served 43 years in Missouri prison for a triple murder that he did not commit, Parson was unmoved.

Long, long after the key witness in Strickland’s murder 1979 trial recanted her testimony and apologized, and the real killers confessed, the governor said he was unconvinced of Strickland’s innocence, and not “willing to put other people at risk.”

He said it would just not be fair to let Strickland, who had spent most of his life wrongly incarcerated, jump the line ahead of the 3,000 other applicants for clemency who were waiting for his attention.

How’s that line moving, Governor?

Last June, Parson also lifted former Gov. Eric Greitens’ stay of execution for Marcellus Williams, who has spent 23 years on Missouri’s death row, even though his DNA does not match that found on the knife used to kill Lisha Gayle, the former newspaper reporter murdered in 1998 in St. Louis County.

(Back when Josh Hawley was Missouri attorney general, he also said he was confident of Williams’ guilt. But the evidence, then as now, says otherwise.)

Last month, Wesley Bell, the prosecutor in St. Louis County, filed a motion to vacate Williams’ conviction. The motion said none of the physical evidence found at the scene of the crime — the murder weapon, shoe prints, fingerprints or hair — tied Williams to Gayle’s death. Bell’s motion also said prosecutors who’d tried the case also “improperly removed qualified jurors for racial reasons during jury selection.”

He had previously disbanded the Greitens-ordered board of inquiry into Gayle’s death, saying it had gone on long enough.

But what has gone on more than long enough is the attitude, which voters keep rewarding, that there is one set of rules for the well-connected and like-minded and another for those with no such advantages.