Commutations

Obama Squeezes in One More Round of Commutations, Granting Mercy to 330 Federal Prisoners

Going out with a bang

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Obama
Erik S. Lesser/EPA/Newscom

One last act of mercy before hitting the road: President Barack Obama today announced one more final round of federal sentence commutations.

He's going out big: He granted 330 commutations to people in federal prison primarily for drug-related crimes. That's the most he's granted in one day. Combined with his Monday announcement commuting sentences for 209 people, that's more than 500 people granted mercy in his final week. His overall final total stands at 1,715 (and 212 pardons), meaning almost a third of his commutations came at the very end. And the overwhelming majority of his commutations came in the final two years of his second term (check out the chart here).

Nevertheless, the president facilitating the release of so many federal prisoners of the drug war, primarily victims of extremely harsh mandatory minimum sentences, is one of the areas where Obama has earned praise from libertarians. No, he hasn't seriously done much to scale back the brutal war on drugs. But he has freed many of its prisoners and has commuted more sentences than any president in history.

Even so, The Washington Post notes, Obama denied close to 15,000 clemency requests and more than 1,600 pardon requests. One aging gentleman caught up in a government drug sting will not be seeing the exit:

One inmate who was denied clemency is 64-year-old Bruce Harrison, a decorated Vietnam War veteran who was awarded two Purple Hearts. Harrison, who is in Coleman prison in Florida, is suffering from multiple health problems and has served 23 years of a 50-year sentence for his role in transporting drugs in a government sting operation.

After Harrison and other members of his motorcycle group were sentenced, several jurors said they were dismayed to learn of the long sentence that was imposed.

"If I would have been given the right to not only judge the facts in this case, but also the law and the actions taken by the government, the prosecutor, local and federal law enforcement officers connected in this case would be in jail and not the defendants," juror Patrick L. McNeil wrote afterward.

Below, ReasonTV interviewed three former prisoners who had their sentences commuted:

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  1. No Bowe Bergdahl, please no.

  2. These people were all menaces to society 8 years ago, but they suddenly became non-threatening today.

    1. Bingo. What a pathetic coward Obama is.

      1. I’m just savoring the moment. It’s certainly better than not commuting anyone’s sentence.

        1. Yeah, let’s give props to the good things Obama does. Why be a-holes like the progs. Unless, of course, you are strict Team Red players.

          1. While I agree that the drug commutations are a good thing, they throw Obama’s dramatic lack of leadership on ending the war on drugs into stark relief. You know, the war on drugs that disproportionately fucks over black people whose tribe he is supposedly a part of and therefore racially (tribally) loyal to? I wonder how the people at his BET celebration (“Love and Happiness”) got over the cognitive dissonance on that one…

        2. I really appreciate what Obama has done here. It was mighty fine of him to grant clemency to an unrepentant Marxist terrorist so that we can remain certain of what team he plays for and what piece of shit he still is, despite the laudable pardons and commutations for people whose crimes had no actual victims.

          1. OK, the Rivera thing went too far, he had to go and slip that in. I was referring to the drug sentences.

    2. Their danger is directly correlated with election cycles.

  3. .”If I would have been given the right to not only judge the facts in this case, but also the law and the actions taken by the government, the prosecutor, local and federal law enforcement officers connected in this case would be in jail and not the defendants,” juror Patrick L. McNeil wrote afterward.

    You had the power to judge the law. It was right there in your hands no matter what lies the judge told.

    1. “absolved of all culpability” i guess is what he tells himself when trying to get to sleep at night.

    2. You had the power to judge the law

      People who know that are not allowed on juries.

  4. RE: Obama Squeezes in One More Round of Commutations, Granting Mercy to 330 Federal Prisoners
    Going out with a bang

    “Obama denied close to 15,000 clemency requests and more than 1,600 pardon requests. One aging gentleman caught up in a government drug sting will not be seeing the exit:

    One inmate who was denied clemency is 64-year-old Bruce Harrison, a decorated Vietnam War veteran who was awarded two Purple Hearts. Harrison, who is in Coleman prison in Florida, is suffering from multiple health problems and has served 23 years of a 50-year sentence for his role in transporting drugs in a government sting operation.”

    What a great way to show how much he cares for veterans than to keep them incarcerated.
    He makes me proud that he was my president.
    (Holds backs tears)

    1. Hey, he commuted Manning’s sentence. Xe is a veteran.

      1. I see what xou(?) did there.

    2. It seems to me that, if he has failing health, Bruce Harrison is better off in prison and receiving minimal medical care than to get out and risk it with the VA. He’ll be dead before he can get care there.

      1. I wouldn’t assume that prison health care is better than no health care.

  5. “If I would have been given the right to not only judge the facts in this case, but also the law and the actions taken by the government, the prosecutor, local and federal law enforcement officers connected in this case would be in jail and not the defendants,” juror Patrick L. McNeil wrote afterward.

    Land of the free, home of the brave.

  6. proggy tears are lighting up derpbook today. this stuff might beat the highlight reel from election night.

    1. Wait for tomorrow. Peak Derp approaches.

        1. There is no such thing as Peak Derp. The science is settled.

          1. It will be a local maximum, not ultimate peak. Be realistic.

          2. “To infinity derp and beyond!”

          3. My theory is that increases in CO2 cause Derp to remain trapped in the atmosphere, resulting in extraordinary concentrations of Derp. This has resulted in increased progressive political activity, pajama boys, and an election between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

            1. Correlation: check.

              Causation: close enough!

  7. “His overall final total stands at 1,715 (and 212 pardons), meaning almost a third of his commutations came at the very end.”

    Allow me a slight quibble – the President can “grant Reprieves and Pardons” for federal offenses (except for impeachment cases), there is no separate category for commutations. So commutations have to be a subcategory of either reprieves or pardons.

    1. Commutations are reprieves.

      A common dictionary definition of reprieve is “a postponement or remission of punishment”.

  8. Given his record on race relations, Obama should’ve doubled down and pardoned Manson.

  9. The FALN commutation still bothers me.

    1. Yes! Has Reason even mentioned that one? The guy’s an unrepentant, murderous terrorist.

      1. I don’t believe they have, no. Could have missed it, though.

    2. Clemency for a terrorist who murdered several people and injured or crippled several dozen more, is entirely indefensible. If this were about justice, there’s probably a few tens of thousands of other prisoners whose crimes are of less gravity and whose lengthy sentences are less deserved than this terrorist. But it’s not about justice, it’s about a silent nods towards his Marxist roots and his enduring sympathy for left-wing terrorists. I can’t conjure up any arguments or defense of that commutation and I fancy myself pretty good at understanding the perspectives of others, right or wrong as they may be.

      Are there any half-way rational defenses of this commutation? I have yet to see any. The MSM is usually falling over themselves to whitewash Obama’s every move but in regards to this story all I’ve seen from the media is sober reporting of facts, the fact that they’ve omitted their typical high praise is revealing. It seems to reveal that they don’t know how to defend this one other than by not offering any harsh criticism about it.

      1. From the news stories, the guy was a FALN member convicted of doing illegal stuff for FALN and…later, plotting a prison escape which would have involved killing some guards. He wasn’t specifically convicted of FALN’s worst crimes, but he was clearly one of their leaders, so he can certainly be blamed for the kind of organization he helped head. (or as his supporters put it, “guilt by association!”)

        Obviously a murderous dude…many countries would have given him the death penalty, and he wouldn’t have been around almost four decades later asking for clemency.

  10. I”m not impressed by the emperor’s mercy.

    He gave some of the gladiators a thumb’s up rather than a thumb’s down?

    So what?

    If he wanted to impress me, he’d throw himself in prison.

  11. Couldn’t he have just ONE friggin’ day where he takes his socialist bonafides to their logical conclusion and shoots a shitload of government employees? If Stalin would have just done that once every 2,000 days he’d be a lot more likable.

  12. He was working on a book with Lucy?

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