Showing posts with label F.D. Roosevelt. Show all posts
Showing posts with label F.D. Roosevelt. Show all posts

Monday, August 8, 2016

Obama Makes History on Two Fronts

Last Wednesday, President Obama granted 214 commutations of sentence, the most any president has ever granted in a single day. In doing so, he broke Franklin Roosevelt's previous record, of 151.

We searched through our data again and discovered President Obama also set another record: for the largest number of individual acts of clemency (pardons, commutations, remissions of fines and forfeiture, respites, etc.) granted in a single day:

Click on Image (Above) to Enlarge
Prof Mark Osler kindly notes that these data would also exclude (in addition to amnesties, or group pardons) grants by Gerald Ford's Presidential Clemency Board - data which are not compiled in DOJ / OPA clemency warrant records. Interestingly, when recent presidents set these marks, it was hardly noticed and no one had any idea of context, whether or not any record had been set. Having gathered comprehensive original data on clemency, the Editor of this Blog is uniquely qualified to provide that context.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Obama and Other Multiple Term Presidents

Click on Image (Above) to Enlarge

Commutations Announced Today ...

Word is President Obama will be granting 214 commutations of sentence today. If so, it will be a record for commutations of sentence granted in a single day.

The previous record was set by Franklin Roosevelt on July 26, 1935. On that day, FDR granted 151 commutations of sentence. Below is a chart of notable single day commutation grants. For those with more technical knowledge of clemency, President Obama's record is clearly established even with the blur between commutations and pardons that existed in the 1700s and 1800s.

Number of Commutations
drug offenses
cond. deportations
49 vio. Esionage  Act
48 vio. Espionage Act.
22 for esp. vio. select. serv. act.
All for cutting timber on government land
29 hindering select. serv.act.
All for Ill. entering country, cond. deportation
17 for larceny of a horse / 1 mule
19 esp .select. serv. act
10 sell. liq. indians
All for hazing, Navy
consp. restraint trade

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Yahoo "News." Epic Fail.

Just now reporting on President Obama's last round of pardons (17, in March), Yahoo News reports the President has granted 39 pardons. It is not clear why the commutation of sentence that he granted is not also recognized, but, hey, it's a free country.

The piece then reports that Franklin D. Roosevelt granted "over 3,600" pardons. And then, the red flags go up.

Roosevelt did not grant that many pardons at all. 2,819 would be more like it. The only way one can get over 3,600 is if one adds his commutations of sentence (488) and remissions of fines and forfeitures (477) and 12 respites to the number.

Roosevelt's pardon of Earl Browder is described by the piece as "controversial," but don't hold your breath waiting to see that one on anyone's Top Ten Controversial Pardons list.

The piece then says James Garfield issued "zero" pardons, "partly" because he "died soon after taking office." With precious little effort, it could have been learned that Garfield, in fact, granted four pardons and a commutation of a death sentence. The message screener at Yahoo will not allow a comment drawing attention to this error, because it is incorporated into the video's associated quiz.

The pieces then says Andrew Johnson pardoned all Confederate soldiers. Forgive us for understanding what an amnesty is, and isn't!

Epic fail, YahooNews. Epic fail. See video here.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

More on Obama, Records and Clemency Applications

Obama, No FDR!
In a previous post (here) we noted that it is likely that the Obama administration will set a new record with respect to clemency applications. Here (below) is additional information on why we hold this view:

With three years to go, it seems pretty clear that Obama's application pile will surpass that of the Bush administration, which is second only to that of Franklin Roosevelt. In fact, Obama is already 70 percent of the way to beating Roosevelt's mark (of 13,541 applications) and he would only need to average 93 pardon applications per month, to the end of the term, to top it. At the current application rate (an average of about 171 applications per month), the Obama administration would close out with almost 17,000 clemency applications (see our own "Projected Applications" bar in the chart below, on the far right).

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Holder (Obama): Loud. But Outside the Ring.

Shud - dup !
Passionate, sincere-sounding rhetorical efforts clearly predestined to utter and complete failure can be entertaining. The producers of professional wrestling understand this. Their combatants stand high on the ropes, angrily shaking their fists in the air as they tell thousands of people around them to “Shud-dup!” These exercises in mass communication never succeed, to any degree, at any level. Indeed, they guarantee a louder, more disrespectful audience. It is impressive, but humorous, because the result is so predictably unimpressive.

Attorney General Eric Holder’s recent memo to U.S. attorneys (dated August 12, 2013) has a similar feel. The three-page document, an exhibit in what some hope is a “major shift” in DOJ policy, explains that the exercise of “discretion” in charging decisions is “among the most important duties of a federal prosecutor.” Right away, I wondered, “Is there really a prosecutor somewhere unaware of this?” Holder admonishes U.S. attorneys to evaluate factors in sentencing in a “thoughtful and reasoned manner.” He reminds them sentences should be the product of “individualized assessments” and should “fairly” represent criminal conduct. By the time he instructs them to be “candid” and “accurately calculate” sentencing ranges, one suspects something like disrespect, low-regard, or - at the very least - documented, empirical assessment of poor job performance. One could almost imagine the memo’s author on the top rope, calling millions of people a “nation of cowards”!

Monday, May 6, 2013

The Mafia, the Murder Stable and Presidential Mercy

Author Virgil W. Peterson notes that, in the early 1900’s, Ignatio Lupo (a.k.a. Ignazio Saietta, a.k.a. “Lupo the Wolf”) was “the most important leader in the Sicilian-Italian underworld.” Lupo came to the United States in 1899, at the tender age of twenty-two. He had fled from Sicily after committing a murder and settled in East Harlem.

Author Carl Sifakis observes young Lupo gained an “awesome reputation” over the next few years as “the most desperate and blood thirsty criminals in the history of American crime.” Indeed, it became “common” for Italians to cross themselves at the mere mention of his name of the “most proficient and deadliest” racketeer in New York. Conventional wisdom was that Lupo was also behind countless episodes of torture in a building in Italian Harlem affectionately known as the “Murder Stable.” In 1901, a New York police detective who was assisting the Secret Service in an investigation of plots to kill President McKinley raided the structure at 323 East 107th Street. The property, owned by Lupo, was searched and diggings uncovered the remains of at least sixty murder victims.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Obama: More Dubious Pardon History-Making

President Obama's first term has now ended and, along the way, his administration tied Bill Clinton's first term for the fewest months featuring grants of either pardons or commutations of sentence. Obama granted a mere 22 pardons and 1 commutation of sentence, the lowest number for a full term for any president since George Washington! And he (Obama) did it all in just three months. The remaining 46 months of the term were a complete wash.

It will now be interesting to see just how far clemency dysfunction continues. In the first term. Obama also strung together 23 consecutive months without granting a single act of clemency. The length of the drought tied George W. Bush's first term for the longest of any modern president. Obama is currently riding a 14-month string of inaction.

Months Featuring   Clemency (of 49)
Months Without Clemency (of 49) Most  Consecutive Months Without Clemency
F. Roosevelt (1)    45     4        4
F. Roosevelt (2)    37     12        11
F. Roosevelt (3)    44      5        1
FDR / Truman (s)    46     3        1
Truman (1)    49     -        -
Eisenhower (1)    25     24        7
Eisenhower (2)    14     35        7
Kennedy / Johnson (s)    40     9        3
Johnson (1)    23     26        7
Nixon (1)    5     44        13
Nixon (2) / Ford (s)    17     32        9 
Carter    31     18        5
Reagan (1)    17     32        8
Reagan (2)    31     17        5
Bush    5     44       18
Clinton (1)    3     46         22
Clinton (2)    11     38       11
Bush (1)    7     42       23
Bush (2)    13     36       7
Obama    3     46       23

Saturday, December 22, 2012

What will a Merciless December Mean for Obama?

If President Obama fails to grant a single pardon or commutation of sentence this month (December), he will come ever closer to matching Bill Clinton's record of 46 months in a term without an act of clemency. Obama has already tied George W. Bush's record for the most consecutive months (23) without a pardon or commutation of sentence.
Months Featuring   Clemency (of 49)
Months Without Clemency (of 49) Most  Consecutive Months Without Clemency
F. Roosevelt (1)    45     4        4
F. Roosevelt (2)    37     12        11
F. Roosevelt (3)    44      5        1
FDR / Truman (s)    46     3        1
Truman (1)    49     -        -
Eisenhower (1)    25     24        7
Eisenhower (2)    14     35        7
Kennedy / Johnson (s)    40     9        3
Johnson (1)    23     26        7
Nixon (1)    5     44        13
Nixon (2) / Ford (s)    17     32        9 
Carter    31     18        5
Reagan (1)    17     32        8
Reagan (2)    31     17        5
Bush    5     44       18
Clinton (1)    3     46         22
Clinton (2)    11     38       11
Bush (1)    7     42       23
Bush (2)    13     36       7
Obama    3     45*       23

* January remaining in the term.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

What They Don't Teach in Con Law: Roy Olmstead

Roy Olmstead was born in 1886, to a family of farmers in Nebraska. In 1904, he moved to Seattle, Washington and worked in a shipyard before joining the Seattle Police Department. Roy impressed his superiors and rose through the ranks, but saw opportunities for profit when Washington State prohibited the manufacturing and selling of alcohol in 1916.

So, he began his own bootleg operations and was eventually identified driving around a roadblock set by Prohibition Bureau agents. Olmstead was fired from the force, but established himself more firmly as "the Good Bootlegger" (because his operations failed to feature prostitution, gambling, gun-running, narcotics trafficking, etc.). Indeed, he did not allow his employees to carry firearms.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Obama: Just Too Busy for Mercy

James Buchanan granted 25 presidential pardons from the time South Carolina seceded from the Union and the Confederate States of America were formed (February 1861).

Abraham Lincoln took the time to grant 5 pardons in July of 1861, following the disastrous showing of Federal troops in the Battle of the First Bull Run. In early 1862, he granted 7 pardons while his 11-year old son, Willie, suffered (and eventually died) from typhoid fever. Lincoln also granted 3 pardons during the week of the Battle of Gettysburg.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Quite the Pair: Herbert H. Bigelow and Charlie Ward

Hubert Huse Bigelow was the chief executive officer of Brown and Bigelow, a company in St. Paul, Minnesota which produced playing cards and calendars. Industry magazine described him as "one of the foremost citizens of the Midwest." His partner, Hiram Brown, was actually quite apart from the day to day operations of the company, but Bigelow was famous for a meticulous management style and a tendency to wear unnecessarily cheap suites.

When the Sixteenth Amendment created the federal income tax, Bigelow simply ignored the law and became the first "big-name" target of government prosecutors. As a result, he was convicted on June 24, 1924. Bigelow was fined ten thousand dollars and sentenced to two years in the federal penitentiary at Leavenworth, Kansas.

Prison life was not exactly comfortable for businessman Bigelow. Indeed, he constantly felt as though his life was being threatened. Something had to be done, or someone was going to have to step in and provide protection. As U.S. Attorney General Francis Biddle described it, Bigelow just happened to meet a man “in the cell next to him” and the two became "friends.” But others would claim that Bigelow’s lawyer, Will Oppenheimer, arranged for his client to meet and share the same cell with one Charles Allen Ward, the man who would provide the necessary protection.

Ward had been in prison for almost four years by the time he “met” Bigelow. He was born in Seattle and, after high school, went from a job selling newspapers to a job shining shoes. This led him to work as a commercial fisherman and driving dog-sleds. He even managed a hotel before moving to Tijuana to run his own casino.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Prodigy, Rising Star, That Went to Prison

Edward Fretwell Prichard, Jr. was marked by Central Press as one of the six brightest students in America. As a result, the prodigy was treated to an all-expense paid tour of Europe and got a chance to meet Benito Mussolini.

Prichard entered Princeton University when he was only sixteen years old, but became involved in (and eventually the President of) the school’s Woodrow Wilson Democratic Club. Later, “Prich” worked with the Democratic Party on Franklin Roosevelt’s presidential campaign. He also became an editor for the school’s newspaper, the Daily Princetonian, and made the honor roll. Along the way, he gained a reputation as a formidable debater and orator.

Prichard graduated at the top of his class but made the New York Times his senior year after throwing a three-keg “beer party” in his dorm. He then found himself suspended from Princeton indefinitely. The party was thrown after he had debated the constitutionality of the New Deal with Colonel Henry Breckenridge (candidate for the United States Senate). Prichard was declared the winner of the debate by a vote of ninety-six to seventy-two.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Obama: 60 Days from Making History

President Barack Obama has now gone 612 days without granting a single presidential pardon or commutation of sentence. Almost 2,000 applications are pending and a couple of thousand more are new and fresh.

In 60 days, however, President Obama will pass Bill Clinton (whose administration made quite the mark when it came to pardons), and will become the slowest Democratic President in American history to discover the clemency power.

It only took John F. Kennedy 19 days to do so. Carter waited 82 days. Harry Truman needed only 8 days after the death of Franklin Roosevelt, and only 6 days after being elected. Woodrow Wilson took only 9 days. Lyndon Johnson only waited 30 days after the death of John F. Kennedy.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Explorer. Oil Man. Liar. Pardoned!

On September 1, 1909, Dr. Frederick A. Cook sent a cable to the New York Herald which read:


The news of Dr. Cook’s achievement spread throughout the United States, and made headlines in Paris and Berlin. It looked like the story of the century was about to unfold in the pages of a struggling newspaper. But, consistent with a theme in Cook’s life, newspapers in London were somewhat skeptical of his claim.

Monday, June 28, 2010

The Director Who Could (or Would) Not Count

Robert Kennedy once boasted that he and his brother “made a real major effort and really major breakthrough” when it came to pardons and commutations. The notion was certainly enhanced by James V. Bennett’s 1970 book entitled I Chose Prison. Bennett, who served as Director of the Bureau of Prisons from 1937 to 1964, praised Kennedy for his exceptional “compassion.” He also claimed that his fellow Democrat “used his powers of granting executive clemency more often than any other President in our history.”

The observation may have appeared all the more impressive by the fact that, at the time Bennett’s book was published, the pardoning power seemed to be a thing of the past. Lyndon Johnson granted no pardons in the last seven months of his administration and Richard Nixon pardoned no one in his first nine months as president.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Curley Politics: Fake Hate / Care Never Quite Out of Style

Time magazine reports that Rep. Andre Carson (D-Indiana) told a reporter that he and Rep. John Lewis (D-Georgia) recently left the Cannon House Office Building and were subjected to a group of individuals chanting "the N-word, the N-word, 15 times." Jim Clyburn (D- South Carolina) called the behavior of protesters "absolutely shocking" and added that he had "heard people saying things today that I have not heard since March 15, 1960, when I was marching to try to get off the back of the bus."

While there are those who will leap at the opportunity to redirect heat from wildly controversial (if not unpopular) legislation, and of course those who will rejoice at every opportunity they can find to declare political opponents "evil" and portray themselves as the victims of "hate" ... we, frankly, cannot get past the simple, bothersome suggestion that there actually was such behavior, in this day and age. For that reason, we choose to leap at - and rejoice over - the fact that, to date, there appears to not be a single shred of evidence that that any of these things happened, other than 1) the word of persons who made the claims 2) reporters willing to report such claims  for sensational effect, all the while using words like "apparently" and "evidently" and 3) partisan cheerleaders who are simply in it for the smear.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Francis Townsend: The Man with a Plan

Francis E. Townsend was a retired doctor who (unlike Abraham Lincoln) was born in a log cabin in northern Illinois. He moved to the Los Angeles area, lost most of his savings in the stock market crash of 1929 and was forced to re-enter the medical profession. Townsend chose to focus on care for indigent elderly persons in Long Beach and his experiences in that environment prompted him to consider ways in which America could take care of its older citizens. Eventually, he concluded sales taxes could be used to develop a pension for persons over sixty-years of age.

On September 30, 1933, the sixty-six year old Townsend began his great political adventure with a letter to the Editor of the Long Beach Press Telegram. He then wrote additional letters to several newspapers and began circulating petitions. In February 1934, Townsend formed Old Age Revolving Pensions, Ltd., which spearheaded a national movement for a pension plan. Within fourteen months, there were fourteen thousand Townsend Clubs with memberships ranging from one hundred to seventeen hundred. Publicity surrounding later congressional hearings boosted interest and support in the Townsend Plan to the point that Townsend was able to boast of more than three million supporters and a Weekly with an annual circulation of seventy-five thousand.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Wilbur B. Foshay's Amazing Story

Wilbur Burton Foshay’s first important business venture was the United Gas Improvement Co. of Hutchinson, Kansas. In 1914, he borrowed two thousand dollars and moved to Minneapolis, where he started another utilities outfit. Then, in 1916, he borrowed another six thousand dollars and launched Wilbur B. Foshay Utility Company. The venture, which started with one employee in a small office in the First National-Soo Line Building in Minneapolis, eventually became Foshay Enterprises.

A federal judge once described Foshay's business legacy as a "Napoleonic adventure" in which Foshay discovered that he could sell stocks and securities of utility companies if people believed the companies were making large current incomes on the invested capitol. Indeed, Foshay's basic strategy was to buy up utility companies, manage them, then sell stock in his utility empire. By 1929, he had thousands of employees and many thousands more of investors.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Context: Amnesties (or Blanket Pardons)

Washington - July 10 1795, Whiskey Insurrectionists
Adams - May 21 1800, Pennsylvania Insurrectionists (Fries Rebellion)
Jefferson - October 15 1807, Military deserters (if surrendered in 4 months)
Madison - February 7 1812, Military deserters (if surrendered in 4 months)
Madison - October 8 1812, Military deserters (if surrendered in 4 months)
Madison - June 14 1814, Military deserters (if surrendered in 4 months)
Madison - February 6 1815, Pirates participating in War of 1812
Jackson - June 12 1830, Military deserters discharged, those confined released
Buchanan - April 6, 1858, Utah uprising
Lincoln - February 14 1862, Political prisoners paroled
Lincoln - March 10 1863, Military deserters restored with only forfeiture of pay
Lincoln - December 8 1863, “Rebellion” participants (with exceptions) subject to oath
Lincoln - February 26 1864, Military deserters sentences mitigated, restored to duty
Lincoln - March 26 1864, Clarification of December 8, 1863, amnesty
Lincoln - March 11 1865, Military deserters (if returned to post in 60 days)
Johnson - May 29 1865, Certain rebels of Confederate States
Johnson - May 4 1866, Clarification of previous amnesty
Johnson - July 3 1866, Military deserters restored with only forfeiture of pay
Johnson - September 7 1867, Confederates (excepting certain officers) subject to oath
Johnson - July 4 1868, Confederates (except those indicted for treason or felony)
Johnson - December 25 1868, Confederates (universal and unconditional)
Harrison - January 4 1893, Mormons practicing polygamy
Cleveland - September 25 1894, Mormons practicing polygamy
T. Roosevelt - July 4 1902, Philippine insurrectionists, subject to oath
Wilson - June 14 1917 5,000, Persons under suspended sentences
Wilson - August 21 1917, Clarification, reaffirmation of June 14 amnesty
Coolidge - December 15 1923, Espionage Act
Coolidge - March 5 1924, Over 100 military deserters. Restoration of citizenship.
F. Roosevelt - December 23 1933, Over 1,500 who violated Espionage or Draft laws.
Truman - December 24 1945, Thousands of ex-convicts serving at least 1 year in war
Truman - December 23 1947, 1,523 draft evaders (recommended by Amnesty Board)
Truman - December 24 1952, Convicts serving armed forces at least 1 year since 1950
Truman - December 24 1952, Military deserters convicted between 1945 and 1950
Ford - September 16 1974, Vietnam draft evaders. Conditioned on public service
Carter - January 21 1977, Vietnam draft evaders. Unconditional pardon

* For additional updating / commentary on this list, contact the Editor of this blog.

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