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Governor, President > Pardon

 

 

 

 

Illustration:

Nicole Xu

 

President Obama’s Last Chance to Show Mercy

NYT

DEC. 6, 2016

https://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/06/
opinion/president-obamas-last-chance-to-show-mercy.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

pardon

 

 

 

 

governor > grant full and unconditional pardons to N

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/11/us/
gov-haley-barbour-of-mississippi-is-criticized-on-wave-of-pardons.html

 

 

 

 

president > mercy

 

The Constitution gives presidents nearly unlimited authority

to grant pardons and commute sentences

— decisions that no future administration can reverse.

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/06/
opinion/president-obamas-last-chance-to-show-mercy.html

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/06/
opinion/president-obamas-last-chance-to-show-mercy.html

 

 

 

 

clemency /  the power of executive clemency / clemency power

 

(a) constitutional provision (...)

gives the president virtually unlimited authority

to grant clemency

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/10/
opinion/mercy-in-the-justice-system.html

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/24/
opinion/reviving-clemency-serving-justice.html

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/10/
opinion/mercy-in-the-justice-system.html

 

http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2013/12/19/
statement-president-clemency

 

 

 

 

grant executive clemency to N

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2013/12/20/us/
20commutation-letter-clarence-aaron.html

 

 

 

 

Justice Department > Office of the Pardon Attorney

 

This office assists the president

in exercising his power of executive clemency,

including pardons and the commutations of sentences.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/22/us/
a-dealer-serving-life-without-having-taken-one.html

 

 

 

 

presidential pardon

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/25/
opinion/invitation-to-a-dialogue-presidential-pardons.html

 

http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2011/12/18/
are-presidential-pardons-fair/

 

http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2007-07-03-
libby-sentence_N.htm

 

 

 

 

amnesties and pardons

https://www.nytimes.com/topic/subject/
amnesties-commutations-and-pardons  

 

 

 

 

commutations

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/23/
opinion/a-small-step-toward-more-mercy.html

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/20/us/
obama-commuting-sentences-in-crack-cocaine-cases.html

 

 

 

 

grant pardons and commutation

http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2013/12/19/
president-obama-grants-pardons-and-commutation

 

 

 

 

presidential power to grant pardons and clemency

commute federal prison sentences

http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2015/12/18/
460293220/obama-commutes-prison-sentences-for-95-non-violent-offenders

 

 

 

 

commute

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/31/us/
politics/obama-commutes-sentences-for-61-convicted-of-drug-crimes.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Corpus of news articles

Justice > USA > Prison, inmates > Freedom

Governor, President > Pardon

 

 

President Obama’s

Last Chance to Show Mercy

 

DEC. 6, 2016

The New York Times

The Opinion Pages | Editorial

By THE EDITORIAL BOARD

 

The Constitution gives presidents nearly unlimited authority to grant pardons and commute sentences — decisions that no future administration can reverse. Unfortunately, for most of his presidency, Barack Obama treated mercy as an afterthought. Even as thousands of men and women endured outrageously long sentences for low-level, nonviolent drug offenses as a result of the nation’s misguided drug war, Mr. Obama granted relief to only a tiny handful.

In the last two years, however, Mr. Obama has changed course. In 2014 he directed the Justice Department to systematically review cases of people serving out sentences that would be far shorter had they been convicted under new, more lenient sentencing laws.

While that clemency process has moved far too slowly — beset by both administrative obstacles and bureaucratic resistance — grants have been accelerating throughout 2016. Mr. Obama has now shortened or ended the sentences of more than 1,000 prisoners, and he will most likely be the first president since Lyndon Johnson to leave office with a smaller federal prison population than he inherited.

There are thousands more people deserving of release, but their prospects under the next administration don’t look good. President-elect Donald Trump ran on a “law and order” platform that sounded a lot like the punitive approach that led to exploding prison populations in the first place. His choice for attorney general, Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama, has fiercely opposed criminal sentencing reform and called Mr. Obama’s grants of clemency an abuse of power.

In other words, for many federal inmates, their last hope lies in Mr. Obama’s hands.

Up to now, the president has reviewed clemency requests on a case-by-case basis. With only weeks left in office, Mr. Obama should consider a bolder approach: blanket commutations for those inmates still serving time under an old law that punished possession or sale of crack cocaine far more harshly than powder cocaine — a meaningless distinction that sent disproportionate numbers of young black and Latino men to prison for decades.

Congress significantly reduced that disparity in 2010 (which Mr. Sessions supported), but did not apply the sentence reduction to people already in prison. Several thousand remain behind bars, and they’re no less deserving of mercy just because their crimes occurred before 2010. Mr. Obama could order the release of most of these people right now. If he is worried about some committing new crimes, he could prioritize those who prison officials have already determined pose the lowest risk of violence. Or Mr. Obama could commute their sentences to what they would have received under the current law. The Justice Department says it will review all clemency petitions received before Sept. 1 from drug offenders before Mr. Obama leaves office.

The idea of blanket commutations is being pushed by a coalition of criminal-justice reform advocates, including former judges and prosecutors, who urged the president in a letter last week to use his clemency power aggressively while he still can. The group called for the release of thousands more nonviolent offenders in low-risk categories, including elderly inmates, who are the least likely of all to commit new crimes, and those with convictions for drugs other than crack. The coalition argues that it is possible to make these grants in the short time remaining, if the administration is committed to getting it done.

Mr. Trump may well dismantle a lot of Mr. Obama’s legacy, but he can’t touch grants of clemency. Mr. Obama has taken important steps toward unwinding the decades-long imprisonment binge. With much of that progress now at risk, he has only a few weeks left to ensure a measure of justice and mercy for thousands of people.

 

Follow The New York Times Opinion section on Facebook and Twitter (@NYTOpinion), and sign up for the Opinion Today newsletter.

A version of this editorial appears in print on December 7, 2016, on page A28 of the New York edition with the headline:
Mr. Obama’s Chance to Show Mercy.

President Obama’s Last Chance to Show Mercy,
NYT,
DEC. 6, 2016,
http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/06/
opinion/president-obamas-last-chance-to-show-mercy.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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