As regular readers of this blog will know, in the last couple of years, Lantern’s author Jens Soering has been the subject of a controversial New Yorker profile, a forthcoming documentary feature film called The Promise, and follow-up stories in the media that have questioned his conviction for two murders thirty years ago. Jens, who maintains his innocence, has consistently asked not to be pardoned or released but—a much easier lift—to be sent back to Germany to complete his sentence, thus relieving the citizens of the Commonwealth of Virginia of the tax burdens of looking after a person who is not a U.S. citizen and would not, under any circumstance, be allowed back in the U.S. once he was released.
It was to such an arrangement in 2009, that outgoing Virginia governor Tim Kaine agreed. That decision was not only immediately rescinded by incoming Republican governor Bob McDonnell (an apparently unprecedented move) but, now that Kaine is the running mate of Democratic presidential contender Hillary Rodham Clinton, has now become the putative soft-on-crime albatross that some Virginia Republicans are looking to hang around Kaine’s neck.
As a story in today’s Politico indicates, the Clinton camp aren’t running away from the story. As ever, the considerable actual merits of Soering’s release—he’s been a model prisoner, has written four valuable and insightful books for us, and he would pose no threat to the U.S. and save people money—will be forgotten.