Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Reason on Obama's Pardon Stinginess

Over at Town Hall, Jacob Sullum, Senior Editor of Reason Magazine has a piece on "Barack the Unmerciful." Sullum notes that the "reputedly progressive and enlightened man" has a "strong shot" at wining the title of "least merciful president."

With just 22 pardons and 1 commutation of sentence, is in the company of:
... George Washington, who probably did not have many clemency petitions to address during the first few years of the nation's existence; William Henry Harrison, who died of pneumonia a month after taking office; and James Garfield, who was shot four months into his presidency and died that September. 
If one changes the focus to complete 4-year terms, however:
With the exception of Washington's first term, then, Obama so far has been stingier with pardons and commutations than any other president, especially when you take into account the growth of the federal penal system during the last century, the elimination of parole, the proliferation of mandatory minimums, and the concomitant increase in petitions. This is a remarkable development for a man who proclaims that "life is all about second chances" and who has repeatedly described our criminal justice system as excessively harsh. 
Sullum also notes:
Obama has granted clemency petitions at a lower rate than all of his recent predecessors. The odds of winning a pardon from Obama so far are 1 in 59, compared to 1 in 2 under Richard Nixon, 1 in 3 under Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter, 1 in 5 under Ronald Reagan, 1 in 10 under George H.W. Bush, 1 in 5 under Bill Clinton, and 1 in 13 under George W. Bush, per Ruckman's calculations. The odds for commutation are even longer: 1 in 6,631 under Obama, compared to probabilities under the seven preceding presidents ranging from 1 in 15 (Nixon) to 1 in 779 (Bush II). 
The piece ends by noting that it is an "amazing accomplishment" that Obama has "made Richard Nixon look like a softie." See full editorial here.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I hope that the recent attention, & fact that the President has nothing to lose politcally speaking, will "change" his attitude towards clemency. Some of us can only "hope".....

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