That would be the pardon power.
Bush's 157 pardons say little about his criminal justice philosophy. Most have gone to people convicted long ago of minor offenses, who spent little or no time in prison, and who are unknown outside of their communities. Five of his six sentence commutations went to small-time drug offenders who had spent years in prison and were close to their release dates.
Meanwhile, Bush has denied almost 8,000 clemency requests, many of which were indistinguishable from the ones he granted.
The Sentencing Reform Act of 1984 made the pardon power virtually the only mechanism by which lengthy mandatory prison sentences can be reconsidered once they have become final. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, the author of opinions upholding harsh sentencing laws, urged in a 2003 speech to the American Bar Association that the pardon process be "reinvigorated" in response to "unwise and unjust" federal sentencing laws; "a people confident in its laws and institutions should not be ashamed of mercy," he said.
A series of final pardons could highlight flaws in the justice system that would be instructive to the next administration. The Framers considered the pardon power an integral part of our system of checks and balances, not a perk of office. Judicious grants of clemency can signal to Congress where rigid laws should be amended and give policy guidance to executive officials. The president's intervention in a case through his pardon power benefits an individual but also signals how he wants laws enforced and reassures the public that the legal system is capable of just and moral application.
It is ironic that a president who has stretched his other constitutional powers to the breaking point has been so reticent and unimaginative in using the one power that is indisputably his alone.
The one time Bush used the pardon power to make a statement about injustice was when he commuted what he determined was an unfairly long sentence for former Cheney chief of staff Scooter Libby. There's also some talk now that Bush may pardon all federal counter-terrorism interrogators to clear them of possible torture charges in an Obama administration (Obama has signalled that he won't pursue such charges). There's also talk (though it seems more far-fetched) that Bush will issue a blanket preemptive pardon for himself and his top advisers before leaving office.
Here are just a few people more deserving.