Friday, December 3, 2010

STOP THE PRESSES! Pardons Granted!

Disregard today's earlier post, because President Obama has issued his first pardons!

The grants go to nine people whose cases are described briefly in this press release from the Department of Justice.  All of the offenses appear minor (e.g., mutilating coins), and four of them involved drugs.  The oldest conviction dates back to 1960 (a whopping 50 years ago); the most recent to 1999 (11 years ago).  In all but three of the cases, probation was the sentence, and the longest term of incarceration was two years.  In short, none of these cases appears to have been controversial or a "tough call."

FAMM applauds President Obama for using the pardon power.  Though he waited a long time to do so, we imagine that the recipients of the pardons are thrilled to have closure and a clean slate after all these years.  The collateral consequences of convictions are so onerous -- and a pardon is the only way out of them -- that President Obama should keep granting pardons so that rehabilitated people can keep moving forward with their lives.

Of course, we are deeply disappointed that there are no commutation recipients on this list.  We find it impossible to believe that of the thousands of federal offenders receiving harsh mandatory sentences each year, the Office of the Pardon Attorney could not find a handful of deserving people to recommend for commutations.  President Obama should keep the pressure on the pardon attorney's office and ensure that commutation applicants are getting fair and thorough consideration.  There are deserving people serving too much time in prison, and for many of them, a commutation is their only way back into society early.  With a close and impartial inspection, we believe President Obama and the pardon attorney's office will find that many of these commutation applicants are ready to rejoin society and lead productive lives.