Thursday, January 7, 2016

DC: More Like a State, And Some

There is an effort about to have the Mayor of the District of Columbia be given the power to pardon and commute sentences. Currently this power sits with the President of the United States.

A Professor Abbe Smith, of Georgetown University has suggested that there are very "few" such grants. Of course, these days, there are "few" grants anywhere, in any state, relatively thinking.

We made a casual run through our own historical data, however, and found what might be considered quite a few more DC grants than suggested in initial reports.

To get a greater sense of proportionality, we compared those grants to the total number of grants by each president, and the number of grants one might expect in a 51 unit model (each state plus DC) with an equal number of grants for each unit. Here are the results:

President
Pardons / Commutations
Expected DC Grants in 51 Unit Model
Actual Pardons / Commutations from D.C.
Difference
Eisenhower
1140
22
32
+10
Kennedy
572
11
22
+11
Johnson
1187
23
31
+8
Nixon
923
18
14
-4
Ford
409
8
11
+3
Carter
566
11
16
+5
Reagan
408
8
8
even
Clinton
460
9
12
+3
W. Bush
200
4
1
-3


These data suggest that, if anything, the District of Columbia traditionally gets more than its fair share of clemency grants. The Editor has the ability to run this analysis straight back to 1789 but has no reason to think the results would be any different.

So, if anything, supporters of the change - to Mayoral clemency - should not couch their argument in terms of neglect. Instead, they should argue that clemency data suggest  the District has, more or less, taken on the characteristics of a state (and some) and should be treated accordingly.

3 comments:

Unknown said...

You have to distinguish between federal prosecutions of DC residents and prosecutions under DC Code, since only latter wold be reached by proposed new mayoral authority. I believe there has only been one pardon of a DC Code offender in last 15 years.

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

A great, additional distinction, that I have never seen in reporting. Thanks.

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

And, again, hardly anyone has been pardoned in the last 15 years anyway. I wonder how many clemency applications involve violation of D.C. code?

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