Friday, May 20, 2011

President Obama's New Pardons Not Much to Celebrate

It's official -- President Obama, after 849 days in office, has issued another 8 pardons.  That makes the grand total a measly 17 pardons in 2 and a half years.

The list isn't much to applaud.  Most of the crimes are almost laughably minor (10 points to any reader who knew it was a crime to aid and abet the possession and sale of illegal American alligator hides!).  Most of the sentences were -- at least in the federal sentencing universe -- short.  Most of the convictions were pathetically old, dating as far back as 1975 (before this blogger was born!).

Worst of all:  no commutations.

Seriously?  There's not one person among 210,000 federal prisoners who deserves to go home a little bit early?  Not one nonviolent, low-level, or first-time offender serving some ungodly-awful, decades-long mandatory minimum?  Not one lifer who maybe, just maybe, doesn't deserve to die in prison?

Here's the list, from the Department of Justice:

Randy Eugene Dyer – Burien, Wash.

Offense: Conspiracy to import marijuana (hashish), 21 U.S.C. § 963; conspiracy to remove baggage from the custody and control of the U.S. Customs Service and convey false information concerning an attempt to damage a civil aircraft, 18 U.S.C. § 371.
Sentence: June 19, 1975; Western District of Washington; five years in prison and two years of special parole (special parole term subsequently vacated.)

Danny Alonzo Levitz - Angola, Ind.

Offense: Conspiracy, 18 U.S.C. § 371.
Sentence: Aug. 18, 1980; Northern District of Indiana; two years of probation, $400 fine.

Michael Ray Neal - Palm Coast, Fla.

Offense: Manufacture, assembly, modification and distribution of equipment for unauthorized decryption of satellite cable programming, 47 U.S.C. § 605(e)(4).
Sentence: May 31, 1991, as amended June 2, 1992; Eastern District of Virginia; six months in prison, three years of supervised release conditioned on six months of home confinement, $2,500 fine.

Edwin Alan North - Wolcottville, Ind.

Offense: Transfer of a firearm without payment of transfer tax, 26 U.S.C. § 5861(e).
Sentence: Aug. 18, 1980; Northern District of Indiana; six months of unsupervised probation.

Allen Edward Peratt Sr. - Sioux Falls, S.D.

Offense: Conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) and 846.
Sentence: July 23, 1990, as amended May 29, 1991; District of South Dakota; 30 months in prison, five years of supervised release.

Christine Marie Rossiter - Lincoln, Neb.

Offense: Conspiracy to distribute less than 50 kilograms of marijuana, 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) and 846.
Sentence: Oct. 7, 1992; District of Nebraska; three years of probation conditioned on performance of 500 hours of community service.

Patricia Ann Weinzatl - Prentice, Wis.

Offense: Structuring transactions to evade reporting requirements, 31 U.S.C. § 5324(a)(3).
Sentence: Aug. 15, 2001; Western District of Wisconsin; three years of probation, $5,000 fine.

Bobby Gerald Wilson - Summerton, S.C.

Offense: Aiding and abetting the possession and sale of illegal American alligator hides (Lacey Act), 16 U.S.C. § 3373(d)(1)(B) and 18 U.S.C. § 2.
Sentence: Dec. 19, 1985, as amended May 13, 1986; Southern District of Georgia; three and one-half months in prison, five years of probation conditioned on performance of 300 hours of community service.