You need to see the Rapid City Journal’s stories for the big picture, but basically Gov. Mike Rounds commuted the life sentence of a murderer, Jack Ramos, and then found out there is strong, strong disagreement by the victim’s daughter, the victim’s sister and the killer’s ex-wife. The matter supposedly sat on Rounds’ desk for two years. He now says his staff couldn’t locate any of the three women. The deed is done, however: Rounds can’t rescind the commutation. Ramos could be eligible for parole in 2013. Whether Ramos gets out, is now up to the state board of pardons and paroles. Rounds says he’ll write a letter to the parole board opposing the release of Ramos. What a final act as the curtain comes down on his time as governor. The only thing crazier in all of this is why the parole board in the first place recommended to Rounds that he commute the sentence. We are all human, sometimes to a fault.
UPDATE: Rounds’ office just distributed a grid of other commutations and clemency grants he made. They include two more lifers who saw their sentences commuted. One is Timothy Caffrey who received life for first-degree manslaughter in Bennett County on June 21, 1983. The other is Jesse Stuck, who was sentenced to life for aggravated assault and being a habitual offender in Beadle County on May 21, 1987. Both now join Ramos in becoming eligible for parole.