Obama plans to take his ‘clemency authority seriously’ and pardon drug offenders

Genuine Concern or Approval Rating Ploy?

Back when President Obama was just a humble civil rights law professor, he made grandiose claims of wanting to reform the racially biased criminal-justice system. Yet once he had the authority to rectify those wrongs, he waited well into his first term as president to take any action. In 2010 he signed the Fair Sentencing Act, which reduced the sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine. The five-year minimum sentence for those in possession of crack cocaine was viewed by many as a racially biased stipulation, and courts were already in the process of reducing the sentencing disparity prior to the bill’s passage.

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For a president that’s made it clear he enjoys any opportunity to bypass Congress, he has done little to take full advantage of his only unrestricted executive power. Pardoning felons and reducing sentences has been at the bottom of his “to-do” list. Vanita Gupta, deputy legal director of the ACLU, stated Obama’s clemency record was “abysmal.” He’s only pardoned 22 people, while only commuting one prisoner’s sentence. No modern president has been as stingy with their clemency powers. According to ProPublica, you had a 1 in 3 chance of being pardoned by Reagan, and 1 in 8 of being pardoned by Clinton. With Barack Obama, you have a 1 in 50 chance of receiving a pardon.

The fact that Obama is a shameless hypocrite shouldn’t surprise anyone who has read an article in the past six years. Yet it appears with only two years (thank God) left in his presidency, he may be attempting to actually fulfill a long overdue obligation.

Pardon Attorney Ronal Rodgers is also to blame for the staggering decline in pardons. His branch of the Justice Department recommended the White House deny nearly every single petition for a pardon or a reduced sentence. Obama made no attempt to fix this broken system, even though he was well aware of it.

One person who did make an effort to help prisoners was Gregory Craig, Obama’s now former top lawyer. Yet after Craig suggested a more aggressive use of the clemency power, as well as separating the pardon attorney’s office from the DOJ, no one took his reforms seriously. He left the White House in 2009.

Sam Morison, a staffer in the pardon attorney’s office, also attempted to blow the whistle on the “total collapse of the pardon advisory process” back in 2009. Morison said the urge to deny petitions was so ingrained at the office that Obama would never be effectively able to use his pardon power. No one replied to his memo then, but it appears that Obama is finally getting the message. Rodgers has been left out of meetings concerning granting pardons to those who aren’t wealthy or well-connected.

Clemency Project 2014” has already excited non-violent drug offenders languishing in prison, some for decades. President Obama could grant clemency to “hundreds, perhaps thousands” of drug offenders as part of the project, a senior administration official said Monday. To meet this influx of requests, the DOJ is hiring new personnel to assist with the clemencies people are now expecting Obama to grant.

[about_faith]

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10 comments

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10 Comments

  • Jeffrey Rogers
    April 25, 2014, 2:14 pm

    If you have been convicted by a jury of your peers you deserve no clemency.

    REPLY
  • Inconsistencies
    April 25, 2014, 3:25 pm

    Until the war on “some” drugs is ended, the offenders will just wind up back in prison eventually for further “crimes against society”. End the drug war, repeal all drug laws, let people put whatever they want into their own bodies, then prosecute them if and when they actually harm someone. How can there be freedom if you don’t even own your own body?

    REPLY
  • Brad Kirby@Jeffrey Rogers
    April 25, 2014, 5:30 pm

    Define, “peers” and then try saying that with a straight face. Try finding a single gun-owner (or anyone that has ever fired one, or even touched one) on a trail for a self-defense shooting. Try finding one person that has tried any illegal drug on a drug trial. Peers my ass.

    REPLY
  • Jeffrey Rogers@Brad Kirby
    April 26, 2014, 9:03 am

    yeah…you are right….everyone should go free. Why didn’t I think of that? If I’m ever on trial, I’ll use that defense. I have no peers.

    REPLY
  • Brad Kirby@Jeffrey Rogers
    April 26, 2014, 9:54 am

    You are a troll. I never said everyone should go free. I said that it is rare for anyone on trial to have a jury with anything in common. The DA maneuvers and schemes to get as many jurors up there that will convict out of ignorance. Have you never been to a jury selection? Are you really so daft to suggest that someone that uses mild drugs or sells pot should be locked up for the same amount of time as someone that has committed murder or for less time than child molesters get?

    REPLY
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