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December 31, 2005

A thorough review of GWB's pardon work

As a follow-up to President George Bush's recent holiday grants of 11 more pardons, USAToday ran this effective article reviewing "the 69 people pardoned and two people whose sentences have been commuted during Bush's five years in office."  The article, which includes this informative companion piece providing "A history of pardons," has this assessment of GWB's efforts:

President Bush demonstrated again this month that penitent lawbreakers have little chance of gaining a pardon unless their crimes were non-violent and occurred years before he took office.  Political connections probably aren't much help, but Texans seem to have a bit of an advantage....

Some legal analysts say Bush's infrequent use of the authority given to him by the Constitution is a missed opportunity.  He has not used clemency to signal displeasure with long mandatory-minimum sentences or to highlight the rehabilitation of people who emerged from prison to contribute to their communities.

"He's being careful to the point of trivializing his pardon power," says Margaret Colgate Love, the federal pardons attorney from 1990 to 1997.  "If he did absolutely nothing, he would be criticized as being stingy."  The pardons he has granted for old, innocuous cases, she says, are "the least he can do.  They say nothing."

Related posts discussing President Bush's pardon work:

December 31, 2005 at 02:10 PM | Permalink


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It is worthy of note that an increasingly healthy body of empirical research suggests Republican presidents tend to grant fewer pardons than Democrat presidents. Likewise, individuals who come to the presidency with previous experience as governor tend to pardon less often than their counterparts. In addition, presidents who have entered office in the aftermath of pardon scandals (from the previous administration) tend to be very slow in starting up the distribution. Finally, the decline in the use of pardons, by almost any reasonable measure, is not a recent occurance. It is a long-standing trend, stretching back to the Truman administration or, arguably, the administration of Woodrow Wilson.

Put it all together and you have this: there is no reason in the world anyone should have expected George Bush to utilize the pardon power with great frequency.

Posted by: P.S. Ruckman, Jr. | Mar 31, 2007 2:23:50 AM

I wouldn't be surprised of the amount of his "special interest friends" that will be pardoned at the end of his sentence. It would be better if the feds could get an indictment against them after his term in office.. Including you Mr. Alberto Gonzales...

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