Sentencing

President Obama Announces 61 New Commutations

Total for his administration: 248.

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Today the White House announced a new round of commutations for people in federal prison serving harsh sentences. Today adds 61 new commutations to a grand total of 248.

The Washington Post has a full list of each of the 61 people granted commutations and the crimes for which they were convicted and their sentences. Here's a sample:

Ismael Rosa – Chicago, IL
Offense: Conspiracy to distribute multiple kilograms of cocaine (four counts); use of communication facility in commission of drug offense (two counts); Northern District of Illinois
Sentence: Life imprisonment (August 8, 1995)
Commutation Grant: Prison sentence commuted to expire on March 30, 2017.

Every single person on the list is on there for a drug-related crime, typically involving some sort of intent to distribute. Some also had weapon-related charges attached but were not convicted of any sort of violence; we're talking crimes like being a felon in possession of a weapon.

The White House is making a big deal over the fact that Obama has commuted more people than previous presidents. They even provide a chart:

Chart
White House

But as Reason's Jacob Sullum has noted, the number of commutations absolutely pale when compared to the number of people begging for mercy from the administration and the "thousands" of commutations the administration had expected to achieve by the time Obama left office. Read Sullum's analysis of the last round of commutation announcements here and how the Department of Justice is blaming volunteer lawyers for the fact that the numbers aren't higher here

NEXT: Should Cops Arrest a 14-Year-Old Boy on Child Porn Charges Because He Sexted?

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  1. Any whistleblowers in there?

    1. After a few years in jail probably more than a few have… oh, that’s not what you meant.

  2. “See? I’m better than the other guy!”

    1. May I?

      “… at pretending to care.”

    2. Seeing that this is the Most Transparent Administration in History?, I have no doubt that these numbers are deliberately misleading.

      See here. He’s a complete slacker on pardons.

  3. Good for him.

    1. it’s better than nothing.

  4. OT: Fiery Rhetoric

    http://www.thedailybeast.com/a…..rally.html

    Cops: Teen Sexually Assaulted, Pepper-Sprayed, Called ‘N**ger Lover’ at Trump Rally

    1. Quick! Get nikki to make sardonic remarks about how “THIS AINT REAL RAPE” or something.

      1. Yeah, because that’s what Nicole’s point is. Deliberately and purposefully failing to get Nicole’s points doesn’t make you look sharp, chief.

        1. “”Deliberately and purposefully failing to get Nicole’s points “”

          Because its so sophisticated, endlessly repeating the same whine about other people’s lack of outrage.

      2. She was asking for it. Look at the way she’s dressed. Blazer? Hair up? Nerdy glasses? It’s like she doesn’t even know that geek chic is an aphrodisiac for modern men.

        1. I said blazer but I meant windbreaker. I am not a man of high fashion.

          1. That heaping pile of loud and stupid is going to be fun hearing about over and over and over again.

          2. “GILMORE to the Commutation Thread. GILMORE to the Commutation Thread, please. Thank you…”

        2. That’s the spirit!

    2. The penalty for too much Trumping should be to watch that video. I did my penance.

    3. Only 2 things I could tell from that video.

      1. Girl slapped at guy, couldn’t tell if there was any contact.

      2. Guy sprayed her in face with something orange.

      Who was the original provocateur, I couldn’t tell.

      1. But we’re all in agreement that it’s Trump’s fault, right?

        1. Absolutely, don’t want to miss the next cocktail party invite.

          1. I don’t get invited to any cocktail parties, so I assume I’m doing everything wrong.

            1. Say how much you hate Trump, think of a reason why there’s a libertarian case for Bernie, and use libertarian moment at least once per day. You’ll be in, in no time.

              1. I’ve got A and C down. I just can’t make a case for B.

    4. I blame Bernie Sanders because everything bad that happens at Trump rallies is the fault of provocateurs paid by the Sanders campaign.

    5. Is this like the story about the hordes of Obamacare protesters shouting the N word at black politicians as they walked through?

      1. And spitting on them, don’t forget that. Nancy Pelosi was the only witness, but we have to believe it.

        1. Nancy Pelosi is America’s Witness!

          1. I wish they’d put her in the Witness Relocation Program. Argentina or Brazil would suit the fascist.

      2. Probably not on account of the fact that there are pictures of the girl covered in what appears to be pepper spray and the police say it was pepper spray.

        1. Okay, pepper spray, check.

          Now, I don’t get into the kinky stuff, but how does her being pepper sprayed translate into sexual assault or racial epithets?

          1. The sweet young lady claimed an older gentleman grabbed her breasts, and then she threw what looked like a punch at him. Then she was apparently pepper sprayed. And then someone called her something naughty.

            I spared you the video! YOU ARE WELCOME.

          2. At absolute best they pepper sprayed a 15 year old, so even if the “nigger-lover” thing didn’t happen, I don’t think this reflects well on the people involved.

            1. I don’t think this reflects well on the people involved.

              They were at a Trump rally.

            2. Listen, if they were all exceedingly polite and well-behaved, they are still entertaining Donald Trump as a viable political option, so their image is already poor.

            3. I don’t think this reflects well on the people involved.

              Simple attending this event “doesn’t reflect well” on anyone involved. Anything further than that is so much gravy.

        2. Looks more like barbecue sauce to me. Pepper spray? C’mon!

          1. The best barbecue sauce is the kind that comes in a spray can.

          2. Her reaction was unlike any other person I’ve seen that was pepper-sprayed. So was the (non) reaction of everyone in the immediate vicinity of the discharge.

            1. Maybe it was the bell pepper spray. Couldn’t have been too bad, a direct hit in the face and she still has her eyes open, doesn’t seem to be in any pain at all.

  5. OBAMA = AM I NOT MERCIFUL?!?

    Which is funny, because of 2014, he was running well behind his peers in the *normal* measure of presidential mercy, which is *commutations PLUS pardons*. In that context, he don’ look quite so nice.

    1. Nixon had over 900! Nixon was utterly superior! Nixon!

      1. It doesn’t count if they’re your former employees.

          1. There went the dynamite.

    2. Holy shit, 30s and 40s were big on pardons, even outside war years. What the hell was that about – Prohibition? Although I guess FDR gets to game his numbers due to ‘four terms’ thing…

  6. Anybody on the list in for woodchipping a statist hack like Preet?

    Or at least in for suggesting it?

    1. Well, my woodchipper’s a bit rusty – but it WORKS.

      I’M IN! WHO’S WITH ME??!!

    2. I am tempted to get a chipin and name him Preetender.

      http://www.dogbreedinfo.com/chipin.htm

  7. “the number of commutations absolutely pale when compared to the number of people begging for mercy from the administration”

    Credit where it’s due – his administration *invited* clemency applications, so that may have something to do with the large number of applications he’s dealing with.

    The only basis for criticism is “he should be doing more!” but what he’s done so far seems OK.

    “Commutation Grant: Prison sentence commuted to expire on March 30, 2017.”

    OK, I’m a bit cynical about this particular date.

    1. And I may have been *too* cynical, because most of the commutations take effect on July 28 of this year, which would give the offenders over three months to commit new crimes and embarrass the Democratic candidate.

  8. So they’ll return to society as half citizens. I guess better than the rape cage, but they’ll never be able to get jobs, probably can’t vote, have lost their 2nd amendment rights, etc, etc. IOW, they’re never really getting out.

  9. The White House is making a big deal over the fact that Obama has commuted more people than previous presidents. They even provide a chart:

    So what’s the status with the policies that put these people there, and are we beginning to bank on One Man In Office is the dispenser of justice?

    I mean, I don’t have any problem with the president commuting the sentences of non-violent drug offenders, but this notion of The President being the sole dispenser of Justice Light merely reinforces the imperial presidency.

    1. but this notion of The President being the sole dispenser of Justice Light merely reinforces the imperial presidency.

      Agreed.

      1. At least he’s using a power which is explicitly in the Constitution.

    2. Not sole dispenser, but a check, as intended in the constitution.

      1. That is what the Constitution intended, but that’s not what’s at play here. A man who cared about justice would not appoint Loretta Lynch or Eric Holder to be head of the eponymous Department.

  10. Good for him. And for those whose sentences were commuted.

    1. THEY’RE BEING RELEASED BACK INTO A WORLD WHERE THEY WON’T EVEN KNOW WHAT BATHROOM TO USE! TALK ABOUT CRUEL AND UNUSUAL PUNISHMENT!

  11. Good for him.

    “Some also had weapon-related charges attached but were not convicted of any sort of violence; we’re talking crimes like being a felon in possession of a weapon.”

    WHY DOES PRESIDENT OBAMA WANT THERE TO BE SCHOOL SHOOTINGS

  12. the number of commutations absolutely pale when compared to the number of people begging for mercy from the administration

    , which easily numbers in the hundreds of millions.

  13. Good for him.

    Still, as others have pointed out, his pardon number pales in comparison to other presidents and people with commuted sentences will still have their convictions on their record, which essentially strips them of key rights (including to own a gun and to vote in many states), and makes it incredibly difficult to be meaningfully employed, find housing, maintain bank accounts, etc.

    1. Whenever Obama deigns to do “the right thing”, he generally does it in the most backhanded way possible.

  14. Speaking from ignorance here and looking for enlightenment.

    I thought most “convictions” were plea bargains and people plead guilty to a lesser charge to avoid being convicted of what they were originally charged with (and probably were doing) and the longer/harsher sentences that go along with them.

    Doesn’t that mean that whatever is in the record is not really what happened? Example:

    “Ismael Rosa ? Chicago, IL
    Offense: Conspiracy to distribute multiple kilograms of cocaine (four counts); use of communication facility in commission of drug offense (two counts); Northern District of Illinois
    Sentence: Life imprisonment (August 8, 1995)
    Commutation Grant: Prison sentence commuted to expire on March 30, 2017.”

    This could mean (at least to me) that Ismael could have held cocaine for his/her significant other up to he/she was a big dealer in his (I give up) own right but the case was weak so the compromise was Conspiracy.

    Having been on a jury in a murder trial I am always surprised that anyone is ever convicted of anything. This causes me to be suspicious of this type of reporting.

    1. Undoubtedly, some of the people who are convicted only of “nonviolent drug offenses” are actually guilty of more severe charges, including violent ones.

      Presumably, and given the paucity of full pardons this President has issued, all of these cases have been heavily vetted to weed out the ones where the individual was likely guilty of other crimes than he was charged with.

      However, this is the problem with creating fake crimes out of thin air. Prosecutors will go for the low-hanging fruit.

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