Every Thanksgiving it has become a tradition for the President of the United States to pardon two turkeys. The event is covered by the media and the air surrounding the pardons is festive.
For those who are languishing behind bars who have applied for clemency from President Obama, the coverage only serves to enforce the belief that the President is less than sincere when he speaks of the urgent need to end mass incarceration and the ugly racial disparity that is an integral part of it.
Reentry Central has posted several articles on Obama’s dismal record of commuting sentences and granting pardons to those who certainly are qualified to receive them. One article included a poignant letter to the President from the daughter of an incarcerated woman who had applied for clemency during his presidency without success. The woman was convicted on a drug charge, and when her daughter wrote to the President on February 20, 2011 her mother was 16 years into a 19 year sentence. The daughter never received a response. The woman, no threat to society, and housed in a minimum-security prison camp, never heard from the President either. The woman, a model prisoner, was eventually released after serving many more months. Why did she have to wait that long?
On November 26 The Atlantic published a thoughtful article by Ron Fournier that urges Obama to do more than pardon two turkeys and go beyond that kind gesture by shifting his focus on reuniting families of prisoners by granting clemency to deserving individuals.