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March 20, 2009

Still waiting ... and waiting ... and waiting ... on the clemency front

President Obama is about to begin his third month in office still without having made any use (or any mention) of his clemency powers.  As I spotlighted in a post here a few weeks ago, P.S. Ruckman in this post has documented that the new guy "is already among the slowest presidents to tend to this constitutional duty."  As Ruckman has noted, the vast majority of Presidents have used their clemency power within their first month in office.

Disappointingly, President Obama is following the more recent trend of more recent presidents to wait a long time before getting serious about clemencies.  But, as I have said before and will keep on saying, the failure of modern presidents to use their clemency powers actively is especially troubling because the federal criminal justice system in now so much larger (and also so much harsher) than during any other period in American history. 

I am not holding my breath while hoping that President Obama will bring needed change to the modern presidential tendency to ignore clemency concerns.  But I will keep bringing up this issue periodically.  And I also will readily and repeatedly call out others for not calling out President Obama on this front.  As detailed in some prior posts linked below, many were quick to condemn former President Bush for failing to use his clemency power robustly.  These same voices can and should be raised to complain about President Obama's clemency record unless and until he starts doing better on this front.

Some related posts:

March 20, 2009 at 10:26 AM | Permalink


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Don't worry Doug, Obama's AG has already talked about clemency that makes no sense, namely the possibility of releasing GTMO detainees into the US.

If he's willing to do that, he may be willing to throw open prisons like Saddam did prior to the US invasion.

Posted by: federalist | Mar 21, 2009 9:17:28 AM

Clemency for Gitmo detainees may very well make sense.

Posted by: DK | Mar 22, 2009 11:58:37 AM

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