Thursday, April 30, 2015

Former U.S. Pardon Attorney Blasts Process / Project

In an appearance before a gathering at the University of St. Thomas School of Law, earlier this month, former U.S. Pardon Attorney, Margaret Colgate Love spoke candidly about the clemency process, the Department of Justice and Clemency Project 2014.

Ms. Love was Pardon Attorney during the administrations of George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton when the pardon process seemed to reach an all-time low in terms of functionality and relevance. Bush exercised clemency only 77 times in four years (making him one of the least merciful presidents in history). Almost half of Bush's grants came in the last month of the term. Clinton pardoned even less, in his first term (56 times), but also left the White House with a flurry of last-minutes pardons, many of which were wildly controversial.

After pointing out that she served as Pardon Attorney "for almost ten years, back in the 1990's" Love told the audience:
"I can tell you that the system for reviewing cases and for getting cases, and the kinds of considerations that we brought to bear in the Department of Justice were really pretty random."
After reminding the audience a second time that she was "in charge of the pardon process for almost ten years," Love said,
"I can tell you that the degree of secrecy and randomness and inefficiency [in the present system] is extraordinary."
As for the hope of reform, Love said that she thinks a "pop up commission" like the Ford Clemency Board was "a really good project." Last year, the Department of Justice announced that it desired to see applications for commutation of sentence which met specific guidelines. The Department also encouraged lawyers to assist applicants and provided assistance to Clemency Project 2014 . Love, however, said:
"Now working through the present sort of the privatized, second clemency system [this] new privatized pardon process, that has been set up as a parallel process, which is just as unaccountable, just as random, and just as - probably more - inefficient than the Pardon Attorney's Office ... wooo .. you know, this is a recipe for, like, not much happening. 
Re the prospects for federal executive clemency in the administration of Hillary Clinton, Love said:
"I have no feeling about how Mrs. Clinton will approach these [issues]. I have no feeling. In fact I have a little bit of a feeling that she may not be real enthusiastic about talking about criminal justice issues.  Certainly her husband, with all due respect, did more to damage the federal justice system than any body else. And he also damaged the federal clemency system, in a very ... of course, his Justice Department contributed to that, frankly, but he certainly did his part to bring into disrepute that system."


Anonymous said...

The former bureaucrat, with discretion, in charge of pardons, blames the Department of Justice and "the system" for the disastrous record for pardons when SHE was in town?! Hilarious!

Anonymous said...

I don't gett all of this negativity about the clemency Project. I hope they can get as many pardons as they possibly can. I support what they do 100 %. So should everyone else.

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