Obama Ends His Pardon Drought. Meekly.

President Obama finally ended his pardon drought last week. Only George Washington and George W. Bush went longer before issuing their first pardon. Obama granted nine pardons, but kept with the recent trend of granting pardons to the people least in need of one.

P.S. Ruckman, who runs the Pardon Power blog, isn't impressed. Ruckman points out that the average time between the initial offense and last week's pardons was more than 28 years. Six of the nine people Obama pardoned didn't commit an offense that merited incarceration. The maximum prison sentence among the nine was two years. One of the nine was pardoned for defacing coins in 1964, an offense for which he was punished with probation and a $20 fine.

Like his predecessor, Obama has assumed and asserted a host of constitutionally questionable presidential powers since taking office, including the power of detain people indefinitely without trial, to render people over to other countries where they might be tortured, to assassinate U.S. citizens, and on the occasions he uses any of these powers, the power to keep it all secret from the public and the other branches of the federal government. And also like his predecessor, Obama at the same time has proven stingy—to the point of becoming a historical outlier—with one of the few powers the Constitution actually grants to him explicitly.

It's worth noting that the questionable powers he guards zealously allow him to detain, torture, and kill, while the power he's eschewing bestows mercy or, when used properly (and it usually isn't), acknowledges the flaws in the federal government's criminal justice system and the people victimized by them.

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  • Ray||

    "Defacing coins."

    Just another "crime" cooked up by our Orwellian masters.

  • Whew!....||

    Lucky they didn't catch me when I used to put pennies on the railroad track.

  • DRM||

    Well, it's not like they were punishing him for stamping the word "Fuck" on them. He was modifying pennies so vending machines would take them as if they were dimes.

  • ||

    Then it's a good thing he got pardoned, right?

  • ||

    I was responding to Ray's post, not DRM.

  • Greer||

    Do you think this guy donated a truckload of money to Dems to get this 50 year old misdeamor pardoned?

  • ||

    Yes, but they were all pennies.

  • Greer||

    I saw what you did there. Put it on the tee, and drive it out of the park.

  • Anonymous Coward||

    Like his predecessor, Obama has assumed and asserted a host of constitutionally questionable presidential powers since taking office, including the power of detain people indefinitely without trial, to render people over to other countries where they might be tortured, to assassinate U.S. citizens, and on the occasions he uses any of these powers, the power to keep it all secret from the public and the other branches of the federal government.

    Dammit Balko! Shut your mouth and stop making sense! A police state is a safe state! An imperial president is better than a constitutionally-restrained president!

    If a few citizens have to be imprisoned without trial, kidnapped and tortured, or assassinated, they should be happy to give up their lives for America! You love America, don't you?*

    * Read this post with your sarcastic voice on.

  • Pendulum||

    So basically, his staff perceived a potential political liability and acted upon it.

    "Hmm, a few agitators are starting to get published by the mainstream press, and the 'longest pardon drought' statistic is quick and easy enough to catch on as a meme. Let's kill it by quickly announcing a few BS pardons, and that'll shut them up without us ever taking a real political risk."

  • Jerry||

    Quick, let's pardon some people before Wikileaks discloses even more embarrassments.

  • Mad Max||

    To start off, he can issue a list of "people I definitely want to serve out their sentences." These would be folks who, after fair trials, were convicted of things like murder, repeated violent felonies, slave-trafficking, and the like. Then those who committed major bilkings of taxpayers and stockholders. A "don't bother asking" list for these hard-core characters would show the necessary Toughness on Crime and remind voters of the federal penal system's true purpose of keeping the really bad guys off the streets.

    Then he can start focusing on people still in prison, reducing the sentences of the first-time offenders, the nonviolent guys, those who inhaled too much interstate commerce, and the like.

    Then he can go to work on pardoning those who've finished their prison terms and cleaned up their lives.

    He should also look into cases where the person had a trial which wasn't exactly fair, and pardon them.

    My own suggestion would be that he also extend Jimmy Carter's 1977 pardon of draft-law violators. Did you know that this amnesty only applied to those whose crimes took place after the Tonkin Gulf Incident in 1964? In other words, it was a pardon for Boomer draft-dodgers only. Draft-dodgers and draft-resisters from before 1964 didn't get the benefit of this amnesty.

    Why such favoritism on behalf of the Boomers? Because they lucked out in living through a particularly "unpopular" war?

  • Jeffersonian||

    Six of the nine people Obama pardoned didn't commit an offense that merited incarceration.

    Then I consider the pardons that much more deserving.

  • ||

    How can you solve like these horrible crimes? Get a degree in Criminal Justice from "United Forensic College" search online.

  • Shaggy||

    Like, I know, Scoob!

  • NeonCat||

    Pardon drought? Honestly, wouldn't "popped his pardon cherry" have been more hit & run like?

    We have a certain level of discourse to maintain here, after all.

  • Cyto||

    Elect me and I'll be a one-man drug prohibition repeal machine. Everyone convicted of victimless crimes gets a pardon in my administration. Boo-ya! 4 years of no prohibition by executive fiat! Hell, just to make the Obama crowd feel better, I'll appoint a Czar to oversee my pardon program. Right now I have prostitution, gambling and drugs - but a good Czar might find a few others to sweep up in my "end to prohibition" pardon campaign.

    And also in keeping with the Obama tradition, I'll post results of lives saved or created along the Mexican border (by the decrease in drug crime). Since there's been over 40k murders in the area over the last few years related to drug crime, I think I can post some pretty impressive numbers.

  • ||

    "Pardoning" an unjustly convicted person AFTER his sentence has run its course is worse than no pardon. It's an insult to the intelligence of everyone in America.

    The next time someone tells you that Republicans have no compassion, let's stack the pardon record of any one of their presidents against Obama's.

  • دردشه عراقية||

    Thanks

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