Prolific Pardoner? Obama Grants Clemency To 22 Prisoners This Week, But Has Denied Thousands

Source: ProPublica

President Obama commuted the sentences of 22 people on Tuesday, doubling the number of commutations he has granted during his administration in just one day, ProPublica’s Annie Waldman writes.

The decision follows a push from the Justice Department last year to fast-track clemency petitions to nonviolent prisoners who under today’s laws would have received a substantially lower sentence for the same offense.

Key takeaways from Waldman’s report:

  • Alongside the new initiative came the removal of the Justice Department’s Pardon Attorney, Ronald Rodgers. In 2012, ProPublica /The Washington Post revealed that Rodgers had failed to disclosecrucial information in recommending that the White House deny the petition of Clarence Aaron, who was sentenced to three life terms for minor involvement in a drug deal.
  • Following our reporting, Obama granted Aaron clemency. Like Aaron, all of the individuals granted clemency this week were serving more than 10 years for nonviolent drug crimes.
  • To date, Obama has granted only 3.4 percent of petitions for pardons and less than 1 percent of petitions for clemency. He has denied more than 9,000 petitions. Nearly 8,700 individuals are still waiting for their petitions to be reviewed.

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