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January 19, 2009

Are the Border Agents the only federal offenders for whom President Bush feels compassion?

I have soooo many reactions to the commutation of the extreme mandatory sentences of former Border Patrol agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Alonso Compean (basics here).  As regular readers know, I am generally opposed to long mandatory prison terms imposed pursuant to 924(c), and the long mandatory terms for Ramos and Compean were especially troublesome given that, had they been willing to forego their rights to claim innocence at trial, they would not have likely gotten more than months in prison as part of a plea deal.  Thus, on the merits (and for reasons detailed more fully in lots of prior posts), I am pleased by the news that the Border Agents will be getting out of federal prison soon.

But I am very displeased by the reports coming from the White House that this latest commutation grant by President Bush is to be the final act of clemency during his administration.  This Newsweek piecereports that specifically that "White House press spokesman Tony Fratto told Newsweek 'you should not expect any more' pardons and commutations from Bush before he leaves office Tuesday.  Another senior official, who requested anonymity discussing sensitive matters, confirmed that no more pardons would be granted."

So, a President who claimed to be a compassionate conservative, could only find two defendants to whom to show compassion on his way out the door and managed to commute the sentence of only 11 federal offenders (including his pal Scooter Libby) over his eight years in office.  This despite the fact that there are now well over than 200,000 individuals in federal prison facilities, thousands of whom have been subject to extreme mandatory sentences on par or even more severe than those given to the Border Agents.

In short, this final act of clemency by President Bush will leave me with the annoying feeling that, even when he did something praiseworthy, he often did far too little of a good thing.

Some prior posts about the Border Agents case:

Some recent (and not-so-recent) related clemency posts:

January 19, 2009 at 04:45 PM | Permalink

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Comments

Perhaps blow back from Clinton's pardons?

Posted by: | Jan 19, 2009 6:04:48 PM

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