Marie Fajardo Ragghianti (born June 13, 1942) is an American parole board administrator, famous as the whistleblower who exposed Tennessee Governor Ray Blanton's "clemency for cash" scandal in 1977-1979.
Ragghianti grew up as a beauty queen in Florida. She married a boxer. Her husband became alcoholic, and beat her. Their son nearly died from a lung infection at the age of two. They divorced, leaving Ragghianti with three young children.
In 1971, at the age of 29, Ragghianti won a scholarship to Vanderbilt University, and earned a B.S. in English literature and psychology in 1975. She was active in the Vanderbilt Young Democrats Club, and caught the attention of newly elected governor Blanton's legal counsel, T. Edward "Eddie" Sisk. She was hired as an extradition officer for the Tennessee Department of Correction from 1975 to 1976, and was appointed the chair of the Tennessee Board of Pardons and Paroles from 1976 to 1977.
Ragghianti earned an M.S. in Management of Human Services in 1978 from Vanderbilt University, and an M.P.A. from the Harvard University John F. Kennedy School of Government in 1992. She worked as a consultant to the Tennessee Legislature in 1979. From 1979 through 1997 she worked as a criminal justice consultant. From 1997 through 1999, she worked as the Chief of Staff for the United States Parole Commission.
Ragghianti was responsible for a federal investigation of corruption in the Tennessee parole and pardon process that led to the conviction of the governor and two aides, and was the subject of the movie, Marie. She received the Goldsmith Award for journalism while attending the Kennedy School of Government and was a National Institute on Drug Abuse fellow while attending the graduate program in criminal justice at the University of Albany, SUNY.
She was appointed a member of the U.S. Parole Commission National Appeals Board on December 9, 1999, by President Bill Clinton in a recess appointment. She was designated as the board's Vice Chairman on January 6, 2000. Her appointment expired December 15, 2000, as no action on her nomination had been taken by the United States Senate.
- "History of The Federal Parole System", Peter B. Hoffman, United States Parole Commission website. Retrieved January 23, 2008.
- "Film: Spacek in Marie", by Janet Maslin. September 27, 1985, New York Times. Retrieved January 23, 2008.
- "Pardoner's Tale", book review of Marie: A True Story, by J. D. Reed, June 6, 1983, Time Magazine. Retrieved January 23, 2008.