Wednesday, November 28, 2012

"Gridlock of One"

Like us here at FAMM, San Francisco Chronicle columnist Debra Saunders is disappointed that the only pardons meted out this Thanksgiving went to turkeys.  In her column, she highlights a much more worthy recipient of presidential mercy:  Clarence Aaron, who is serving a life sentence for a first-time, nonviolent drug offense.

President Obama likes to complain about gridlock in Washington and blame Republicans for keeping him from doing his job. As president, he has the unfettered executive power to pardon individuals convicted of federal crimes or commute their sentences. Yet, while his 2008 campaign called for a review of federal mandatory minimum sentences to reduce the number of needlessly warehoused nonviolent drug offenders, Obama has pardoned a mere 22 offenders who served their sentences and commuted only one sentence. When it comes to acts of mercy, Obama has produced his own gridlock of one. ...
With his re-election secure, Obama has run out of reasons not to commute the sentences of nonviolent offenders.
Indeed, we hope to see more commutations and pardons granted during President Obama's second term.  But some of the gridlock may be the result of an Office of the Pardon Attorney that is not giving commutation applicants a fair shake.  The Obama Administration is looking into the claims of impropriety, but it should do more -- a wholesale reshaping of the way clemency requests are processed may be in order.

And a second term is the perfect time to do it.