Friday, December 20, 2013

It's a Start

Eight commuted sentences in a single day! Eight!

According to Ruckman at Pardon Power, that's the most commutations any Pres has issued in a day since Nixon in December 1970.  (Well, except for Clinton, but still.)  Wow!

And thirteen outright pardons for people who, as Charlie Savage in the Times points out, served brief if any time for mostly minor offenses and that well in the past.

All that moves him right up.  His Barakness has now leaped ahead so that he's issued more grants of clemency of one sort or another than four (count 'em, 4!) of his predecessors.
  • More than William Henry Harrison in his one-month presidency!
  • More than Garfield in the four months before he was assassinated!
  • More than John Adams in his one term!
  • More than Washington did in two full terms when there were almost no federal crimes or prisoners!
What a guy!

But let's talk a moment about the commutations, because that's big.  Those 8 folk were doing long terms (up to life) for crack cocaine offenses.  Each of them has already done more than 15 years.  Six were doing life. Under the Fair Sentencing Act which reduced (but didn't eliminate - let's get real here) the frankly racist dispartity in sentences between crack and powder cocaine offenses), they'd have done much shorter terms. In a statement issued by the White House, Obama said,
Commuting the sentences of these eight Americans is an important step toward restoring fundamental ideals of justice and fairness.  But it must not be the last.
Of course, it needn't be.  He could, for instance, do something for the other 8,800 or so folks in prison now (according to FAMM) who are doing mandatory minimum times sentences from before the Fair Sentencing Act reduced the disparity.

I'm not holding my breath either.

The list of yesterdays commutations and pardons is here.

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