... to tackle a problem that has a bipartisan consensus and is clearly within his authority: the federal clemency process. It is utterly broken—and needs the attention of a president who cares about the issue, has the mettle to fix it, and knows how to effectively wield his constitutional powers. I don't know whether the problem is Obama's lack of heart, guts, or savvy. But his general fecklessness is inexcusable.In Obama's defense, he is not alone. Fournier notes that, "since the 1980s," the other presidents "have utterly failed to use their constitutional pardon power as a systemic check on federal laws and prosecutors that go too far." So, Fournier suggests:
First, remove the process from the Justice Department—which has an inherent conflict of interest—and put it in the hands of a small independent agency. Obama would need Congress's support to fund such an agency, which shouldn't be a problem given the shift against the moral and financial costs of mass incarcerations. Second, appoint a bipartisan commission with expertise in criminal law to review and track data on recidivism and related issues.See full editorial here.