Obama Issues His Fourth Batch of Pardons; Still No More Commutations

c9d7Obama SOTU 2013 Obama Issues His Fourth Batch of Pardons; Still No More Commutations

Today President Obama
issued 17 pardons, more than he granted in any of his
three prior batches. In fact, today’s pardons amount to more
than two-fifths of all the clemency petitions Obama has granted since taking office in
January 2009. Obama, contrary to what his rhetoric about “second
chances” and our excessively punitive criminal justice system might
lead you to believe, is
not big on clemency.
All 17 pardons involved relatively minor, nonviolent offenses,
several of which should not be crimes at all and only five of which
resulted in jail or prison terms: 54 days for embezzlement, six
months for “unlawful use of a communication facility to distribute
cocaine,” ;one year for a Sherman Act violation, two years for
“aiding and abetting in the theft of an interstate shipment,”
and ;five years for selling cocaine. The other 12 applicants,
whose offenses include “aiding and abetting a wire fraud,”
“conspiracy to traffic counterfeit goods,” ” unauthorized
acquisition of food stamps,” and “possession of an unregistered
firearm,” received probation. As is typically the case, all of the
pardons cleared the records of people who completed their sentences
years ago.
Since drug law violations account for a large share of federal
criminal cases and almost half of the people
serving time in federal prisons, you’d think they would be better
represented among pardons, especially since, unlike many of the
other offenses committed by these applicants, they do not involve
violating anyone’s rights. Still, two is better than none, which is
the number of commutations that Obama saw fit to grant this time
around. Although thousands of drug offenders are serving federal
sentences that Obama himself has said are unjust, he so far has
shortened ;exactly
one.
More on Obama’s amazingly stingy clemency record here.

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Obama Issues His Fourth Batch of Pardons; Still No More Commutations

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