Saunders notes that, in Obama's first term, he was condemned as "one of the stingiest modern presidents when it comes to the presidential pardon power." This blog pleads guilty on that count, because we know the data landscape well. But, now, Obama seems to be "making up for lost time" - or trying to. Saunders notes her readers now challenge her "to praise the president for using his pardon power" and agrees that he "deserves credit for doing the right thing."
But, it is not all just as simple as that. Saunders feel "a little conflicted":
On the one hand, I think it is great that Obama is bestowing mercy, as I have no doubt that thousands of the 193,070 federal inmates are serving sentences that far outweigh their crimes. On the other hand, I fear that the sheer volume and velocity of this effort could doom this exercise to a bad ending. The president changed his clemency criteria to allow for the early release of drug offenders also charged for firearms possession ... as his administration tries to process some 11,000 applications before he exits, the looming deadline expands the opportunity to make mistakes by releasing someone who is violent.Last-minute pardoning can also leave “long term” damage. If there is not proper vetting, and clemency recipients "reoffend in headline-making ways" the next president might be far too "shy” with the pardon power. Saunders is thus "thrilled Obama is using his pardon power" but also crossing her fingers that he will use it "well." See Saunders' full editorial here.