Drug Policy

Obama's Pardon Drought Continues


President Obama has now gone 387 days into his presidency without issuing a single pardon or commutation. He trails only George Washington, John Adams, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush for longest pardon drought to start a presidency.

The ACLU is mounting a campaign to make Hamedah Hasan Obama's first executive clemency. Hasan was given a 27-year mandatory minimum sentence for playing a relatively minor role in her cousin's crack cocaine operation. The long sentence was due to the crack/powder cocaine sentencing disparity. It was Hasan's first offense, and the acts that led to her conspiracy conviction were all nonviolent. The judge who sentenced Hasan is also asking for her release. So far, she's served 16 years of her sentence. Only an act of executive clemency can prevent her from serving out the remaining 11 years.

More about Hasan's case here.

Meanwhile, pardon power scholar P.S. Ruckman points to a CBS News story about Obama's pardon drought, and says an administration aide's explanation for the lack of clemency action—that first-year presidents get overwhelmed with pardon petitions—simply isn't true.

NEXT: "It's going to keep snowing in DC until Al Gore cries 'uncle.'"

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  1. “Only Obama can free her before she serves the remaining 11 years.”

    I know things seem bleak right now, but sheeeesh!

    Couldn’t we theoretically have another president sometime before then?

    1. Ken: ummm…. not only theoretically, but we WILL have another president. Prez can only serve 8 years, so even if Obama wins reelection he is done in 8. 8 is less than 11 so….

  2. an administration aide’s explanation for the lack of clemency action?that first-year presidents get overwhelmed with pardon petitions

    I’d be ecstatically happy to see Ohblowme devote every remaining hour of his presidency to poring over pardon petitions, to the exclusion of all else.

    1. He inherited a mess of pardon petitions.

    2. WTF? Is there some rule that they can’t grant a single pardon until they have reviewed every single petition?

      This must be national Excuse FAIL Day.

      1. RC Dean, the point P Brooks is making is if Obama were to spend the rest of his term reviewing pardon petitions he wouldn’t be fucking with us in other ways.

  3. What is wrong with these presidents, anyway? Even if you’re hyper-cautious, there are boatloads of clear injustices on the books. In fact, even simply reducing some sentences would be good enough in a number of cases, I’m sure.

    1. Clearly we need a pardon czar.

  4. Good point, Ken.

    I’ll change the wording.

  5. an administration aide’s explanation for the lack of clemency action?that first-year presidents get overwhelmed with pardon petitions

    “Overwhelmed” would mean having a stack so high that you can only get through part of the stack.

    So, either Obama has done that, and didn’t find a single person who he thought was unjustly sentenced, or he hasn’t bothered looking at any pardon petitions at all.

    1. Since they are vetted for him by his staff, at least some should have been reviewed by now.

      Memo to the Presidential staff: The best way to start with a large caseload is to pick one up, review it, finish it, move on to the next.

      Waving your hands while running in circles crying “There’s too much to do! accomplishes very litte.

      1. OTOH, I would prefer the latter approach to your current one on economic matters.

  6. I suspect changing her name might help her odds a bit. The healine “Obama Pardons Hamedah Hasan” would not look good. That’s completely unfair of course, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s a factor in Obama’s decision.

    1. Maybe if she changed her name to Betty Sue Hasan . . .

    2. Yeah, Obama really has to worry about the not-Fox-News media trying to make him look bad.

    3. Hmmm… she could change her name to Shirley Temple… um… no that is already taken. How about Shirley Mosque? 😉

  7. If she’s being held in a privately owned, contracted prison, forget it. They got quotas to fill.

    1. I’m sorry, I meant contractual obligations.

  8. You either have to pardon everybody, or nobody; qualitative judgements are unfair and elitist.

    1. How’s the old Chinese proverb go?

      “The journey of a 1,000 miles begins with one step.”

      1. What is the sound of 300 million hands bitchslapping your face?

  9. “Pardon me, but could you pardon me?”

  10. Dammit, he’s got a global economy to destroy. Leave the man alone!!

  11. I blame Clinton. He didnt use them early on and then when he did, he used them for political reasons. Now, presidents know they are going to get called out on using them.

    1. I’m not sure what you’re talking about. Sounds like gibberish to me.

  12. The healine “Obama Pardons Hamedah Hasan” would not look good. That’s completely unfair of course, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s a factor in Obama’s decision.

    It certainly factored into the ACLU’s decicion to poster-girl her.

    Picking an equally oversentenced guy named Washington or Jefferson (of which there are thousands) wouldn’t signal that sticking a finger in TEAM RED!’s eye is more important than that civil liberties bullshit.

    Your response is the best they could hope for: Obama crippled by imaginary bigots; defend him against them.

    1. She’s black. Her original name is Stephanie. If her name were still Stephanie, the ACLU would still be filing this suit. Religion has nothing to do with this — it’s all about the crack-powder disparity.

  13. You could more explicitly deal with the fact America’s right-wing nut circus will be all over him for virtually any pardon he does. That is not a reason for him to avoid them, IF he was a man of principle, but obviously he doesn’t have that problem.

    1. You could more explicitly deal with the fact America’s right-wing nut circus will be all over him for virtually any pardon he does.

      Oddly enough, Huckabee hasn’t seemed to have caught much flak for his pardons, even though there was a high profile case of recidivism of the worst kind.

      Though a bunch of Democrats immediately proclaimed it a huge problem.

      So, if your point was that political enemies on all sides try to attack politicians for pardons, and extreme right wingers don’t like Obama, then fair enough.

    2. Right-wing nut circus? Well at least we know you dont mean Charlie, Brian, Katie, Diane, or any of those first tier media acolytes of the Obamessiah.
      When we get to the lower tiers, there are George Steponallofus, and any number of less memorable talking heads on CNN. Below that are the PBS and cable networks choir of those who fell from grace on the broadcast networks.

      Personally, I am waiting to see how long he lets Tony Rezko rot. He could be named as Barry’s Real Estate Acquisitions Czar as a patronage appointment.

  14. this is the worst injustice they could come up with? you’d think there are far more shocking cases where people should be pardoned (Corey Maye comes to mind)

    she knowingly and actively participated in a drug business for a year, then refused to testify not because she was afraid for her life, but because she “felt that she could not betray a member of her family”

    27 years is too much, but there are other cases which should be pushed for pardon first

    1. IIRC, Corey Maye isnt eligible for a presidential pardon as he was convicted in state court.

  15. Now, let me be clear. I do fully intend to pardon those with unduly harsh sentences. However, with the job market as it stands today, these prisoners would end up homeless and living on the streets anyway.

  16. With Eric Holder in charge of Justice, which is the department that vets pardon requests, the question is not, “When will he pardon,” but, “How much are you offering?”

  17. That crazy guy who Huckabee granted clemency to offing four Seattle cops sitting there having their morning coffee and donuts didn’t exactly help things.

  18. President Obama has now gone 387 days into his presidency without issuing a single pardon

    Not quite right. There was that turkey…

  19. pardoning all nonviolent federal drug offenders would be a good step in the right direction. turkeys get more pardons from Obama than people.

    1. Well, professional courtesy, you know.

  20. Obama’s friends haven’t been convicted of anything yet. So there’s nobody to pardon.

  21. Hmmmmm, I don’t know. Maybe it’s just me but I think maybe making her serve her full 27 years would a deterent for others. I mean, she knew getting involved (even on the fringes) of the ‘Crack’ world was illegal. Her bad.

    1. Your driving and you approach a stop sign, do you come to a complete stop or do you slow down and proceed through? Most of us slow down, then keep on driving? If we were to cause a accident due to failure to obey the law, should we be punished? OF COURSE! But to what exstint? After all an accident was involved, possibly injured people, totaled vehicles! Is a mandatory sentence of 12 years fair? The law was broken, right? The question in Hamedah’s case isn’t did she deserve time in prison, it’s how much time did she deserve! 27 years? I don’t think so! People make poor decisions EVERYDAY, that doesn’t mean they deserve to spend life in prison or lengthy sentences either. What is a judge for if they’re not allowed to look at each defendant individually? What ever happened to the old phrase “Let the TIME fit the CRIME” ?

      1. Amazing but typical choice of comparisons: a civil infraction failure to stop (a misdemeanor only in one- horse speed-trap towns where the sheriff is also the judge) and a criminal infraction of involvement in the drug trade.

  22. His lack of pardons in the least of his problems.

  23. Some “Justice” system we have!

  24. As a person who has a commutation request in at the office of the pardon attorney I am disturbed by the administration’s failure to do something. What has this office done for the past year and 2 months? Nothing. One of the most sacred responsibilities of the President is to pardon people to right the wrongs of the past. This administration continues to fail in performing these duties. There are dozens of people in jail today for providing cannabis medicines and they deserve to be released as science and medical research shows that they were right and the Feds are simply wrong.

  25. truth,,,,obama people have no idea of the extent to which they have to be gulled in order to be led.”
    “The size of the lie is a definite factor in causing it to be believed, for the vast masses of the nation are in the depths of their hearts more easily deceived than they are consciously and intentionally bad. The primitive simplicity of their minds renders them a more easy prey to a big lie than a small one, for they themselves often tell little lies but would be ashamed to tell a big one.”
    “All propaganda must be so popular and on such an intellectual level, that even the most stupid of those towards whom it is directed will understand it. Therefore, the intellectual level of the propaganda must be lower the larger the number of people who are to be influenced by it.”
    “Through clever and constant application of propaganda, people can be made to see paradise as hell, and also the other way around, to consider the most wretched sort of life as paradise.”pelosi don’t see much future for the Americans … it’s a decayed country. And they have their racial problem, and the problem of social inequalities …obama feelings against Americanism are feelings of hatred and deep repugnance … everything about the behaviour of American society reveals that it’s half Judaised, and the other half negrified. How can one expect a State like that to hold TOGTHER.They include the angry left wing bloggers who spread vicious lies and half-truths about their political adversaries… Those lies are then repeated by the duplicitous left wing media outlets who “discuss” the nonsense on air as if it has merit? The media’s justification is apparently “because it’s out there”, truth be damned. STOP THIS COMMUNIST OBAMA ,GOD HELP US ALL .THE COMMANDER ((GOD OPEN YOUR EYES)) stop the communist obama & pelosi.((open you eyes)) ,the commander

  26. At the least they could tell petitioners if their request has been turned down instead of leaving them in limbo.

  27. This is the only good thing OSLAMA is doing, not pardoning these criminals.

  28. Why can’t we find out if our petition is still in process?

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