Showing posts with label Nixon. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Nixon. 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

Click on Image (Above) to Enlarge

Obama's Commutation Rate

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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: Second Only to Wilson and Coolidge in Commutations

Click on Image (Above) to Enlarge

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Perspective: Obama v. Nixon

Nixon, "Mr. Mercy."
To date, after being President of the United States for seven years, President Obama has granted a total of 318 pardons and commutations of sentence.

If, over the final months of his presidency, Obama were to grant 600 more, he would still be short of the record of mercy set by Mr. Law and Order / Retributive Justice / Lock em Up and Throw Away the Key / Republican Richard Nixon.

And, of course, Nixon left office long before his second term was complete and received 20,000 less applications.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Obama is No Nixon (or Eisenhower)

White House counsel W. Neil Eggleston - and others in the White House - are want to compare President Obama's record on clemency favorably (after almost two full years of zero pardons and commutations of sentence) to the least merciful presidents. Even then, the focus of such "analyses" is but one dimension of clemency (commutations, not pardons). We imagine there are other, less awkward and more enlightening reference points: such as presidents who have, like Obama, have served more than one term:

Click on Image (Above) to Enlarge
Fortunately, Mr. Eggleston, who recently presided over an organizational framework which completely excluded the U.S. Pardon Attorney from communication with the Office of White House Counsel - even when the Deputy Attorney General deep-sixed recommendations for clemency - has told Politico that, in the last months of the administration, the “infrastructure is now very much in place” to file and process clemency petitions and we are all "going to start seeing a lot more very quickly" and "on a more regular basis."

Thursday, December 17, 2015

December Pardoning: Still a Bad Idea

The assertions that presidents (and governors) tend to grant pardons and commutations of sentence near the end of their terms, or during the Holiday Season, are empirical propositions to be tested, not simply stated. For that reason, the Editor of this blog conducted the first data-driven analysis of "seasonal" clemency, published in White House Studies (Volume 11, Number 1, 2011). Among other things, the study found 1 of every 2 grants of clemency from Nixon to George W. Bush (39 years) was granted in the month of December. Furthermore, the prevalence of December pardoning remained considerable, even when controlling for late term (fourth year) December pardons.

It is reported that President Obama will be granting clemency in a hundred or so cases some time in the next few days. Here is how his administration compares to previous administrations re December pardons:

Click on Image (Above) to Enlarge
As a long-term advocate for greater / more serious use of the pardon power (state and federal), it will be easy enough for the Editor of this blog to be happy for the recipients of President Obama's forthcoming mercy - especially since we live in a nation where the Founding Fathers thought there should be "easy access" to mercy. Nonetheless, we continue to hold the conclusion that can be found in our original research: December ("seasonal," or Christmas) clemency is - generally - a very, very bad idea. It is a very poor substitute for serious, regular consideration of clemency applications - and grants - throughout the year (and the term).Why?

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Manning Files Formal Clemency Application

Photo: Mike Groll/AP
It is reported that Bradley Manning has filed a formal petition for clemency. Prosecutors had originally requested a 60 year prison sentence (out of a possible 90). But Manning's eventual sentence was 35 years (including over 1,200 days served). With good conduct, it has been reported that he would be eligible for parole after serving merely one-third of the sentence.

Thus, some are calling for a commutation (reduction) of the sentence. Others are calling for an outright pardon! And, other than institutional dysfunction, poor timing, extremely long odds, the exceptional high risk of political backlash and precious little executive incentive / evident interest ... why, this really might go somewhere.

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”!

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.

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.

President
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

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Reason on Obama's Pardon Stinginess

Over at Town Hall, Jacob Sullum, Senior Editor of Reason Magazine has a piece on "Barack the Unmerciful." Sullum notes that the "reputedly progressive and enlightened man" has a "strong shot" at wining the title of "least merciful president."

With just 22 pardons and 1 commutation of sentence, is in the company of:
... George Washington, who probably did not have many clemency petitions to address during the first few years of the nation's existence; William Henry Harrison, who died of pneumonia a month after taking office; and James Garfield, who was shot four months into his presidency and died that September. 
If one changes the focus to complete 4-year terms, however:
With the exception of Washington's first term, then, Obama so far has been stingier with pardons and commutations than any other president, especially when you take into account the growth of the federal penal system during the last century, the elimination of parole, the proliferation of mandatory minimums, and the concomitant increase in petitions. This is a remarkable development for a man who proclaims that "life is all about second chances" and who has repeatedly described our criminal justice system as excessively harsh. 
Sullum also notes:
Obama has granted clemency petitions at a lower rate than all of his recent predecessors. The odds of winning a pardon from Obama so far are 1 in 59, compared to 1 in 2 under Richard Nixon, 1 in 3 under Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter, 1 in 5 under Ronald Reagan, 1 in 10 under George H.W. Bush, 1 in 5 under Bill Clinton, and 1 in 13 under George W. Bush, per Ruckman's calculations. The odds for commutation are even longer: 1 in 6,631 under Obama, compared to probabilities under the seven preceding presidents ranging from 1 in 15 (Nixon) to 1 in 779 (Bush II). 
The piece ends by noting that it is an "amazing accomplishment" that Obama has "made Richard Nixon look like a softie." See full editorial here.

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.
President
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.


Thursday, December 20, 2012

Once Again: Let Us Be the First to Complain !

In a few days, possibly late Friday afternoon, we guess the White House will dump a handful of tepid, obligatory "Christmas pardons." It may not happen, of course, but 1 of every 2 individual acts of clemency granted over the last 39 years has been granted in the month of December (chart) and it is fairly rare for a president to go the entire month without granting at least one (chart). We would also expect most (if not all) of the acts of clemency to be pardons (as opposed to commutations of sentence) and that the recipients will be persons convicted of minor / non-violent offenses, years (if not decades) ago. The pardons will thus simply restore their rights as they ride through retirement.

These acts (should they even emerge) will represent a very unimpressive punctuation mark to a sorry effort by the Obama administration or, as it is known, the administration of "hope and change."

President Obama waited longer than any Democratic president in history to grant his first pardon (chart). Chances are, even with a few more pardons at the end of this week, his first term will log in as one as the most merciless since the single term of John (unpopular-war-Alien-Sedition-Acts-last-minute-appointment) Adams (chart).

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

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