Saturday, December 3, 2011

Post on Pardons: Whites Favored?

A ProPublica report, featured in today's Washington Post suggests "white criminals seeking presidential pardons over the past decade have been nearly four times as likely to succeed as minorities." The study focused on 494 randomly selected pardon applications from the population of applications submitted during the Bush administration and which resulted in an actual grant (N=189) or explicit denial (N=1,729). The result appears to be a sample with 447 denials and 47 grants. ProPublica then gathered data on each applicant's age, gender, race, crime, sentence and marital status "from public records and interviews." With a dichotmous dependent variable (grant / denial), the data were examined via logistic regression. And all of the fans of Hosmer and Lemeshow rejoiced!

First, the Report notes only 13 individuals in the population of Bush's pardons (N=189) were granted to non-whites. And all 34 of the drug offenders forgiven by Bush were white. In the sample gathered by ProPublica, "multiple cases" suggested "white and black pardon applicants who committed similar offenses and had comparable post-conviction records experienced opposite outcomes." None of the 62 African-Americans in the sample received a pardon (in contrast to a 12 percent success rate among White applicants). The Report notes "current and former officials at the White House and Justice Department" were "surprised and dismayed" by the Report's findings. Indeed.

The ProPublica data are said to also reveal favorable outcomes for those who committed offenses decades ago, those who are married, those who received probation (contra prison), those who are financially stable and those with "congressional support."

See full story ProPublica story here. See our own concerns re the analysis here.

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