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July 30, 2019

A (depressing) first term commutation scorecard for recent US Presidents

By my count, thanks to two commutations granted yesterday, President Donald Trump has now commuted six prison sentences during the first two-third of his first term in office.  (For those interested in an accounting, the folks who have received commutations are Sholom Rubashkin, Alice Marie Johnson, Dwight and Steven Hammond, Ronen Nahmani and Ted Suhl.  All of Prez Trump's clemency work is detailed on this wikipedia page.) 

Given that there are over 177,000 persons serving federal prison sentences, six commutations is, by all sensible measures, a very small number.  The granting of only six commutations seems especially disappointing given that last year Prez Trump was talking about considering clemency requests that including "3,000 names, many of those names have been treated unfairly, ... [and] in some cases, their sentences are far too long."  Six commutations to date also seems quite small in light of the advocacy by Alice Marie Johnson, Prez Trump's most famous commutation recipient, who has urged the President to free "thousands more" federal prisoners like her.

But if we bring a little historical perspective to this story, six commutations during a president's first Term in office starts looking a lot better — primarily because the clemency records of recent presidents is so very awful.  Specifically, using the official clemency statistics here from the Office of the Pardon Attorney (and perhaps being off a little because of the fiscal year accounting), here is a first term commutation scorecard for US Presidents over the last half century:

Prez              Commutations in first term

Nixon             48

Ford               22

Carter            29

Reagan           10

HW Bush         3

Clinton            3

W Bush            2

Obama             1

Trump              6

As informed readers know, back in Nixon's day, the federal prison population was only just over 20,000.  That so very few federal prisoners have recently received clemency while the federal prison population has swelled makes these numbers even more depressing.  The also look terrible if we look back further historically, as almost every other 20th Century US President (except for Dwight Eisenhower) granted a hundred or more commutations while in office (with Woodrow Wilson granting 341 in 1920 alone).

July 30, 2019 at 06:06 PM | Permalink

Comments

good job

Posted by: درب ضد حریق | Jul 31, 2019 3:27:31 AM

thank you for sharing such a good information

Posted by: مشخصات فنی درب ضد سرقت | Sep 1, 2019 4:56:38 AM

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