Friday, May 20, 2011

Obama: 8 More Pardons to the Tiny Little Pile

Because this is exactly what late Friday afternoons are for: the Obama administration has announced that the President has decided to granted eight presidential pardons. At this point in time (11:55 pm Central), there is absolutely nothing about any of the pardons on the Office of the Pardon Attorney's newly designed web page (here). So, the story originates from the White House's Office of the Press Secretary (here).

The offenses addressed by today's pardons were committed between the years of 1975 and 2001. As a result, on average, each appears a full 24 years after-the-fact (slightly less than the President's overall average of 26.3 years). The average known age of Obama's clemency recipients is 60! Randy Dyer waited 35.9 years for his pardon! Only four of today's recipients spent any time at all in prison.

If Ronald Lee Foster took the trophy for most innocuous offense in the last batch of Obama pardons (for mutilating coins in order to fool vending machines), or James Banks (for taking some plywood and nails that were not his), then 61-year-old Bobby Gerald Wilson has to take the trophy in this round. Wilson aided and abetted in the possession and sale of illegal American alligator hides. Will a cameo appearance on Swamp People be forthcoming?

Michael Ray Neal's manufacturing, assemblage, modification and distribution of equipment suitable for unauthorized decryption of satellite cable programming was certainly a public menace! Who can forget it?! Thus, it took the Department of Justice more than three years to process his application! Dyer first applied back in 2004. Allen Peratt applied back in 2003.

President Obama has now granted a mere 17 presidential pardons (all announced on Friday afternoons) and, amazingly enough, zero commutations of sentence. He has been in office for 850 days. How does he compare to other Democratic presidents? By this point in his own administration, Bill Clinton had granted 55 pardons and commutations of sentence. Jimmy Carter had granted 312 pardons and commutations and JFK had granted 381. Lyndon Johnson had granted 717 pardons and commutations.

Indeed, only a Republican, George W. Bush, has been slower to grant a single commutation of sentence. Julie Stewart, president of Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM) notes fairly enough:
"We’re happy that these eight people will have their civil rights restored by this presidential pardon, but it's sad that the Justice Department has not brought the president one prison sentence to shorten. It can’t be true that there isn't a single person among the 210,000 currently in federal prison who shouldn't be there. In fact, during the campaign the president acknowledged that federal prisons are filled with nonviolent offenders serving excessive sentences. Why, then, can’t he find one to commute?"
This is a question Stewart and FAMM member Natasha Darrington are bound to place on the table when they speak to the U.S. Sentencing Commission hearing on crack guideline retroactivity, Wednesday, June 1, in the Thurgood Marshall Federal Judiciary Building located at 1 Columbus Circle Northeast in Washington, DC, adjacent to Union Station. The hearing begins at 8:45 a.m. and will last until 3:00 p.m.

Today's Pardon Recipients (and Background Links):
Randy Eugene Dyer - Burien, Wash. 62 years old
Danny Alonzo Levitz - Angola, Ind. 59 years old
Michael Ray Neal - Palm Coast, Fla. 46 years old
Edwin Alan North - Wolcottville, Ind. 65 years old
Allen Edward Peratt Sr. - Sioux Falls, S.D.
• Christine Marie Rossiter - Lincoln, Neb.
• Patricia Ann Weinzatl - Prentice, Wis.
Bobby Gerald Wilson - Summerton, S.C. 61 years old

See our previous posts on Obama's previous pardons here:
Let Us Be the First to Complain
Obama Drops His First Pardons


Anonymous said...

Ive noticed that these last 8 pardons have recieved no major media coverage. I havnt heard or seen anything on em on tv.

I believe that is a good thing. Without the news channels making a big deal about em, maybe they will become more frequent.

I believe the reason W & O, have been so tight with em the last decade is potential political backlash. If the media ignores this process, presidents may be less likely to ignore the stacks of those in wait.

Just a theory....

P.S. Ruckman, Jr. said...

EDITOR- I would generally disagree, for a variety of reasons.

Media exposure and backlash will tend to increase as pardons are granted less and less frequently and in a controversial manner (by-passing normal processes, pardoning relatives, personal friends and donors, etc.)

Which is to say "controversy" and "media attention" are matters well within control of the President and the Office of the Pardon Attorney. If he wanted, Obama could grant literally hundreds of pardons just like these, pardons which simply involve the restoration of civil rights. In a word, "BORING."


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