Showing posts with label Ford. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ford. Show all posts

Friday, January 13, 2017

Historic Denial of Clemency Applications

With 804 denials of commutation applications announced today, President Obama has denied more clemency applications than the last five presidents - over 32 years - combined.


It seem likely that, in the next seven days, this number will increase, by thousands.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Obama's Abysmal Record on Pardons

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White House PR Chart Fail

When the White House does clemency PR ... ten ... nine ... whatever.

Click on Image (Above) to Enlarge
"We're none of us perfect." - Homer Simpson. If we are making comparisons, very oddly, to recent presidents (none particularly known to be generous with the pardon power), we believe that it might also be worth noting that President Obama has received many more applications for commutations than his predecessors (see chart below). Comparable data are not available before Nixon.

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Obama's Commutation Rate

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Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Ford's Clemency Board Revisited (2)

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Saturday, August 13, 2016

Ford's Clemency Board Revisited

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Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Osler and Ruckman on Ford's Legacy of Mercy

The Editor is pleased to announce the publication of an editorial co-authored with Prof. Mark Osler (University of St. Thomas Law School) in today's Waco Tribune here. The general point of the piece is to note that Gerald Ford's pardon of Richard Nixon - while newsworthy - actually sheds very little like on the pardon power and / or the legacy of Gerald Ford. As the piece puts it:
... the attention given to the Nixon pardon is better directed at educating Americans about the more common use of constitutional mercy. In most instances, pardons are granted to “average” persons — persons of little repute, who are “connected” to no one of great social or political import. These pardons are granted to applicants many years (sometimes decades) after conviction for some minor, nonviolent offence. Consequently, they are not violent criminals being sprung from prison. The judgment of judges and juries are not being overturned. The simple effect of these pardons is restoration of civil rights ... In sum, there is very little that is representative, or generalizable, about Nixon’s pardon. It was a notable but highly idiosyncratic event that produced more heat than light. 
On the other hand, just eight days after pardoning Nixon, Ford "announced that he would again use the pardon power in a deeply meaningful way, with the same goal of healing national divisions":
His plan was to convene a bipartisan commission to evaluate pardons for thousands of people who had either evaded the draft or deserted the military. The Presidential Clemency Board he established did recommend the pardon of thousands of Americans, which Ford allowed. This was done without significant controversy, which may be one reason this part of the Ford legacy is now obscure. 
Osler and Ruckman note that the board-recommended pardons "were not controversial," but that does not mean they were not "significant." Ford granted 1,731 pardons to civilians (those who evaded the draft) and 11,872 to military personnel (who went AWOL). In fact, these pardons "represent the most important systemic use of the federal pardon power in the modern era" and they "provide a template for addressing those who have been over-sentenced for nonviolent federal narcotics crimes." See full editorial here.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

T. Roosevelt v. Modern Presidents

                 Commutations of Sentence
     Theodore Roosevelt v. Eight Recent Administrations

Roosevelt
No.
% of All Grants
Recent
Administrations
No.
% of All Grants
FY 1902
92
27
Nixon
60
6
FY 1903
70
43
Ford
22
5
FY 1904
87
38
Carter
29
5
FY 1905
116
31
Reagan
13
3
FY 1906
66
42
H.W. Bush
3
3
FY 1907
71
26
Clinton
61
13
FY 1908
53
26
W. Bush
11
5
FY 1909
90
34
Obama
1
4
Totals
645


200


* Across 8 fiscal years, Roosevelt granted three times more commutations of sentence than all of the presidents over the last 45 years combined. See additional summary statistics on commutations of sentence here.

Friday, November 2, 2012

President Sitting on a Dozen Positive Recommendations

According to ProPublica:
Currently, two government officials said, there are about a dozen positive recommendations and hundreds of negative ones waiting for the president to act on.
No specific sources are named for this information, but it certainly suggests there is no coming pardon bonanza. Only more of the same dysfunction and neglect.

ProPublica also features calculations based on Department of Justice data. We made the same calculations, from the same data, way back in a July post:

President
Granted Pardon Applications
Granted Commutation Applications
All Applications
Nixon
1 in every 2
1 in every 15
1 in every 3
Ford
1 in every 3
1 in every 25
1 in every 4
Carter
1 in every 3
1 in every 36
1 in every 5
Reagan
1 in every 5
1 in every 100
1 in every 8
H.W. Bush
1 in every 10
1 in every 245
1 in every 19
Clinton
1 in every 5
1 in every 90
1 in every 16
W. Bush
1 in every 13
1 in every 779
1 in every 55
Obama
1 in every 61
1 in every 6,762
1 in every 352

* Data updated 2/4/13

Monday, July 2, 2012

Clemency Grant Rates: Recent Presidents

Clemency Grant Rates by
Pardon Applications, Commutation Applications and All Applications
"1 in every x applications granted"

President
Granted Pardon Applications
Granted Commutation Applications
All Applications
Nixon
1 in every 2
1 in every 15
1 in every 3
Ford
1 in every 3
1 in every 25
1 in every 4
Carter
1 in every 3
1 in every 36
1 in every 5
Reagan
1 in every 5
1 in every 100
1 in every 8
H.W. Bush
1 in every 10
1 in every 245
1 in every 19
Clinton
1 in every 5
1 in every 90
1 in every 16
W. Bush
1 in every 13
1 in every 779
1 in every 55
Obama
1 in every 50
1 in every 5,557
1 in every 290

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Greenwald, Dramatist Extraordinaire!

It is reported that Glenn Greenwald's new book, entitled, With Liberty and Justice for Some: How the Law Is Used to Destroy Equality and Protect the Powerful, argues:
the Nixon pardon set a precedent that ushered in an era of “elite immunity,” a two-tiered legal system that exempts the rich and powerful from the laws applied to other Americans. The legacy of the pardon, Greenwald writes, is that "the United States has become a nation that does not apply the rule of law to its elite class."
We certainly look forward to the data which support that claim, as well as these:
Nowadays, with only rare exceptions, each time top members of the nation’s political class are caught committing a crime, the same reasons are hauled out to get them off the hook.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Obama: The No Commutation of Sentence President

Only George W. Bush waited longer than President Obama to grant the first act of clemency in his term. To date, Obama has granted a paltry 17 presidential pardons (largely restoring the civil rights of persons who committed minor offenses decades ago) and zero commutations of sentence.

President              Days before First Commutation of Sentence
-----------              ---------------------------------------------------------
Obama                1,004 ... and counting
Clinton                  672
Reagan                  317
Eisenhower           282
Nixon                    282
H.W. Bush             206
Carter                    82
Ford (s)                  61
Truman (s)             54
Johnson (s)            30
Kennedy                 19

Monday, May 16, 2011

Pardons: The Unimportant Topic that Makes / Breaks Candidates

We often receive e-mails and comments which essentially make the same point: Who cares about pardons? There are so many other important things about which to be concerned. Why should anyone bother so much about the circumstances of criminals? 

Presidential election campaigns must be very odd things for persons of this mindset to behold. Consider the last go-round, in 2008:

Hillary Clinton was asked about her husband's questionable pardons when it was observed that several recipients were making donations to her campaign. When she badgered Barack Obama about his relationship with Bill Ayers, in a Nationally televised debate, Obama bluntly reminded Mrs. Clinton that her husband pardoned several of Ayers' associates in the Weather Underground. Obama was asked whether or not he would consider a pardon for Tony Rezko. Rudolph Giuliani was asked if he would pardon Bernard Kerik. Vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin was asked if she would pardon Senator Ted Stevens. Vice presidential candidate Joe Biden said he was not to keen on the idea of a pardon for Jonathan Pollard. Every Republican candidate was asked, during the debates, how they felt about a potential pardon for Scooter Libby. And every Democratic candidate had something to say about the eventual commutation of sentence he received from George W. Bush. Mitt Romney downright bragged about the fact that he never granted pardons. Mike Huckabee was roundly criticized for granting too many.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Presidents, Pardons and Athletes

In honor of Barry Bonds, a repost from July of 2008:

I recently chatted with an enthusiastic and well-informed reporter about professional athletes and the pardon power. The interview was, of course, prompted by speculation regarding baseball's Roger Clemens (who has not been convicted of anything) and former track and field star Marion Jones (who received a 6-month sentence for lying to federal investigators). There is also a long-standing call for the pardon of deceased boxer Jack Johnson (who was charged with violating the Mann Act). The discussion gave me a chance to reflect on my memories of athletes and the pardon power. Having personally gone through the clemency warrants of thousands of individuals from 1789 to 2001, word by word, those memories were actually more distinct than I might have guessed.

Athletic prowess seemed to first show up in warrants in the 1800s. My memory is that they involved private foot-races, where individuals placed bets, or illegal fights of some sort. In some instances such events were actually rigged, so fraud was piled on top of gambling in prosecutions. My memory is also that these offenses were generally committed in the District of the Columbia, where the president exercises the pardon power much like a state governor.

The first appearance of more wide-scale, organized athletic events that I recall was during the administration of Theodore Roosevelt. It stood out in my mind because Roosevelt was a boxing fan and the pardons were for a couple of boxers. Roosevelt also pardoned John L. Lennon, the nephew of boxing legend John L. Sullivan (who lobbied for the grant personally and without even an ounce of criticism from the media). I am not certain if that is a comment on Roosevelt, Sullivan or the media of the day.

Since the good old days, the stories of numerous athletes have appeared in clemency applications and warrants. Racing greats Junior Johnson (NASCAR legend) and Rick Hendrick (the "King of NASCAR") have received presidential pardons. Stunt pilot Laura H. Ingalls tried to secure a pardon for years, but never succeeded. She had been attached to the Nazis, so it was a tough sell. Joe Don Looney was a standout at the University of Oklahoma and an interesting character in the National Football league. He was pardoned for drug possession. Charles "Tex" Harrison was an All-American at North Carolina Central University and became a Harlem Globetrotter. Eventually he became the coach of the Globetrotters. This blog has also reported on former Kansas City Royals star Willie Mays Aikens who had pardon applications declined by both Clinton and Bush. Of course, there are others that are around the edges of the world of athletics - George Steinbrenner (who made illegal contributions to the campaign of Richard Nixon), Jimmy "the Greek" (pardoned by Gerald Ford), etc.

Do professional athletes enjoy any kind of "advantage" in the pardon process? Our data on pardons are so thin, it is not possible to render anything close to a scientific answer. But it would seem reasonable enough to theorize (if not assume) that professional athletes enjoy - if anything - the potential "advantage" of access. It is an advantage, of course, that is shared with all persons who are public figures. Granted, fame can be a double-edged sword in this circumstance. It can bring greater scrutiny and greater criticism.

Nonetheless, it would probably be easier for Roger Clemens or filmmaker Ken Burns (who supports the pardon for Jack Johnson) to walk into the White House, or the office of anyone else in the administration, than it would be for any of the seemingly nameless, faceless thousands that have applications waiting in the Office of the Pardon Attorney. And, if the Clinton pardon scandals taught us anything at all, it is that access can be terribly important. It does not necessarily determine the outcome (there were some who had access who failed), because there are certainly other constraints (both formal and informal). But it is apparent that access can, in some circumstances, win the day.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Granting the First Commutation of Sentence

Over the last 12 presidencies, there has been an average of 329 days between inauguration and the granting of the first commutation of sentence. This number is, of course, heavily skewed by the data for the administration of George W. Bush - the slowest president in American history to grant any form of clemency. Excluding that administration, the number falls all of the way to 249. Regardless, the delay in the Obama administration - despite record numbers of applications for commutation of sentence - is more than twice the average for these recent administrations.

President
Assumed Office
Date of First Commutation of Sentence
Number of Days Till
First Commutation
Truman
4/12/45
6/5/45
54
Eisenhower
1/20/53
10/29/53
282
Kennedy
1/20/61
2/8/61
19
Johnson
11/22/63
12/22/63
30
Nixon
1/20/69
10/29/69
282
Ford
8/9/74
10/9/74
61
Carter
1/20/77
4/14/77
84
Reagan
1/20/81
12/3/81
317
H.W. Bush
1/20/89
8/14/89
206
Clinton
1/20/93
11/23/94
672
W. Bush
1/20/01
5/20/04
1216
Obama
1/20/09
- - -
735 and counting …

* These data represent the result of a preliminary run - at the request of media - through an original data set on presidential pardons from 1789 to 2011. The author will edit / amend / correct the data after additional research, should the need arise.

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