Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Morison on Last-Minute Pardoning and Making History.

Attorney Samuel Morison specializes in federal executive clemency and actually worked Office of the Pardon Attorney for a number of years. Morison was interviewed recently by Broadly (The VICE Channels) and noted:
"Presidents have traditionally started granting commutations and pardons relatively early in their presidency, and they did it on a fairly regular basis throughout the course of their [time in office] ... So there wasn't any pressure to do a huge number at the end because they already had a record of doing it all along. That's a much more rational way to do this." 
More rational, of course, than the way Obama has done / is doing it. Obama waited over 600 days before the first clemency grant of his administration and his first term was the least merciful term since the first of George Washington. Now, Obama is engaged in the greatest 4th years surge of any president in history.

Morison notes last-minute clemency "creates a cloud of uncertainty," encouraging the public to wonder / speculate about whether or not "something corrupt" is going on. Last-minute pardoning "feeds the perception" that "special connections" are part of the mix.

You get the idea. Morison has mixed feelings about all of the "history" making and "record breaking" in the Obama administration. He notes that, while Obama may very well have granted as many commutations as the last 12 presidents combined, he has also denied about as many as the last 12 as well.

Furthermore, says Morison:
"If you compare the number of grants he's made to the actual prison population, it actually isn't historic ... Today, the federal prison population is about 200,000, so if Obama was going to equal what his predecessors did a 100 years ago, I would argue that he would have had to have granted about 2,000 commutations a year throughout the course of his presidency." 
Obama hasn't exactly done that. See full story here.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"If you compare the number of grants he's made to the actual prison population, it actually isn't historic ... Today, the federal prison population is about 200,000, so if Obama was going to equal what his predecessors did a 100 years ago, I would argue that he would have had to have granted about 2,000 commutations a year throughout the course of his presidency."

After reading this, I couldn't help myself. I had to look at, & crunch the numbers again. In fairness, out of time constraints, I only went back to Nixon. For starters, I believe it's unfair to use the prison population numbers, or even the conviction numbers when it comes to analyzing pardons, or commutations.

It's really on "fair" when judging the mercy of a President, to look at the actual number of applications, pending, & received. When you add up the pending applications(when taking office), with the total received, you now have the total number of possibilities for clemency. When you divide the actual number of grants with against the applications, you get the actual percentage of applications granted. I believe the stats are a little surprising, & enlightening.

Obama: P - 4.7% C - 5%

Bush: P - 5.5% C - .1%

Clinton: P - 17.5% C - 1%

Bush Sr: P - 6% C - .3%

Reagan: P - 16% C - .9%

Carter: P - 27% C - 2.5%

Ford: P - 32% C - 3.7%

Nixon: P - 32% C - 5.6%

Pretty astonishing when you look at the actual numbers, imo. While Obama is touting himself as the most forgiving President in history, I'd say that's not totally accurate. Turns out, Nixon was the most generous President, at least in my lifetime!!

Turns out, Mr Obama was the stingiest in modern history at granting Pardons. Those of us who received pardons from President Obama should really feel greatful!

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