The Washington Post announced that President Obama has granted 17 pardons, all to individuals convicted of non-violent offenses. That announcement is bittersweet to the 1,316 other people who also filed a pardon application but did not get one. Of course, those not selected might rejoice with those who got the good news. But, the unlucky ones might also feel a spectrum of emotions running from sadness, to bitterness, to anger and frustration.
The majority of those granted pardons were convicted of minor offenses. These individuals were given a fine, or an order to pay restitution. Most were sentenced to probation. A few were incarcerated to terms ranging from 54 days to 12 months. Those granted pardons deserved them. But then, so did hundreds of others.
Thousands of Americans were convicted of drug offenses. Many of them were convicted under the so-called crack cocaine law, which provided harsher sentences for those convicted of a drug offense involving crack than for those convicted of a drug offense involving powder cocaine. The crack cocaine law was responsible for the incarceration of a significant amount of African Americans, and was a major factor in the racial disparity that plagues our criminal justice system to this day. Surely, some of those sentenced under the crack cocaine law have led exemplary lives since being released, and surely, some of them applied for a pardon. Some of these applicants deserved a pardon. Sadly, the President did not think so.
Reentry Central has posted several articles on Obama’s dismal record of issuing pardons. The Washington Post’s Philip Rucker reports on the latest round of pardons, and an article in the Bangor Daily News provides a list of those pardoned.
Sources: Bangor Daily News and Washington Post