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June 13, 2007

Classic FSR coverage of pardon policy and practice

In the wake of President Bill Clinton's controversial pardons his last day in office, the Federal Sentencing Reporter in 2001 produced this special double issue entitled "Pardon Power and Sentencing Policy."  With the debate heating up over a possible pardon for Lewis "Scooter" Libby, FSR's publisher, UC Press, has made available for free a few of the classic articles from that special issue.  Here's what you can now download free from this page:

Enjoy (and consider subscribing to FSR).

June 13, 2007 at 10:01 AM | Permalink


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President Bush has been one of the most stingy in exercising his pardon power, but I don't know the exact nujmbers. Here are the statistics for past presidents:

George Washington 16
John Adams 21
Thomas Jefferson 119
James Madison 196
James Monroe 419
John Quincy Adams 183
Andrew Jackson 386
Martin Van Buren 168
William H. Harrison 0
John Tyler 209
James K. Polk 268
Zachary Taylor 38
Millard Fillmore 170
Franklin Pierce 142
James Buchanan 150
Abraham Lincoln 343
Andrew Johnson 654
Ulysses S. Grant 1332
Rutherford B. Hayes 893
James Garfield 0
Chester Arthur 337
Grover Cleveland * 1107
Benjamin Harrison 613
William McKinley * 918
Theodore Roosevelt * 981
William H. Taft 758
Woodrow Wilson 2480
Warren G. Harding 800
Calvin Coolidge 1545
Herbert Hoover 1385
Franklin D. Roosevelt 3687
Harry S. Truman 2044
Dwight D. Eisenhower 1157
John F. Kennedy 575
Lyndon B. Johnson 1187
Richard Nixon 926
Gerald Ford 409
Jimmy Carter 566
Ronald Reagan 406
George Bush (Former) 77
Bill Clinton 456

Lyndon Johnson, FDR and Woodrow Wilson had a heart.

If a president will not show mercy to those who have endured unujust prosecutorial wrath, how can those of us who believe in mercy remember them in a positive light.

Is it true that a president can only pardon federal convictions?

Posted by: Anonymous | Jun 13, 2007 1:09:07 PM

The Shanor and Miller piece strikes me as odd. The authors attempt to work with the idea of "systemaic pardons" and, in their listing of examples, they primarily list amnesties (or group pardons). Along the way, they overlook the greatest non-amnesty example of clemency as a "systematic policy tool," Woodrow Wilson's record setting individual pardons granted to persons who violated the National Prohibition Act - an Act which passed over his veto. Nor do the authors mention Lincoln's widely documented use of pardons as a device to retain loyalty in border states. I guess these ommissions result from their perception that "the use of pardons as a systematic policy tool has not previously received scholarly attention." The authors also make the classic mistake of saying Jefferson "pardoned all persons convicted under the Alien and Sedition Acts." He did not. He simply freed the very few that were still imprisoned when he assumed affice.

Posted by: P.S. Ruckman, Jr. | Jun 13, 2007 1:14:34 PM

Re: LBJ having a "heart"

According to "the literature," Johnson was heavily criticized for using clemency on behalf of some gangster types in Ohio and felt so burned by it (the criticism) that he stopped pardoning altogether. Here is a chart of his activity:


Posted by: P.S. Ruckman, Jr. | Jun 13, 2007 9:56:50 PM

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