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May 26, 2024

Any suggestions for whom else Donald Trump might pledge to free from federal prison "on day one" back in the Oval Office?

A few months ago, Donald Trump pledged on Truth Social that among his "first acts as your next President will be to ... Free the January 6 Hostages being wrongfully imprisoned!"   And, in a speech last night, as covered in this post, Trump sought to garner support from a libertarian crowd by announcing "If you vote for me, on day one I will commute the sentence of Ross Ulbricht, to a sentence of time served."

These clemency pledges got me to thinking that notable political contingents, or maybe even just a few key folks in a key swing state, might be able to cajole Trump into pledging to use his clemency pen a particular way.  Former NFL star Antonio Brown seemingly figured this out already, as this Fox News piece highlights he has been praising and pitching Trump on clemency fronts.  For example, given that supporters of Marilyn Mosby have so far had no success getting Joe Biden to grant her clemency, perhaps they ought to make a run at getting Trump to pledge clemency for her.   

The Mosby (tongue-in-cheek) idea aside, I do not think it would be foolish at all for Trump to seek to garner attention and favor from certain voters through clemency pledges.  Many criminal justice reform advocates have been quite disappointed that Joe Biden has not used his clemency pen more robustly and broadly.  Polling data suggests that young people and people of color are especially interested in criminal justice reform, and astute clemency pledges could make these important voting blocks take notice.

So, dear readers, any (specific or general) suggestions for whom else Donald Trump might pledge to free from federal prison "on day one" back in the Oval Office?

May 26, 2024 at 04:43 PM | Permalink

Comments

Trump could make broadly appealing statements by, for example, cutting ALL federal drug (narcotics) sentences down to no more than 10 years, so long as no gun was used or fired. He might also cut some of the truly draconian sentences that are based on the mandatory consecutive gun sentences. My friend Gary Settle was sentenced to 177 years in the 1990s, for 9 armed bank robberies he committed in his 20s while addicted to drugs. The District Judge gave him 12 years (concurrent) for the 9 bank robberies, but 165 years of mandatory consecutive time for the guns he used while committing the bank robberies. He has been clean and sober in prison for decades. He has assisted 42 other inmates in obtaining compassionate release (although his own 2 Petitions were denied by the District Judge in Orlando. And he has already outlived his 18-month life expectancy with prostrate cancer, at FMC _ Butner, North Carolina. I also recall 2 young black brothers who had come up thru the foster-care system in South Carolina. At ages 18 and 19 years old, they were sentenced to 53 or 54 years each, for armed robbery in or affecting interstate commerce, including mandatory consecutive sentences for the guns they carried during the robberies. They didn't even understand how much time they were pleading to serve, and were shocked to hear the Judge's sentence in the courtroom.

Posted by: Jim Gormley | May 26, 2024 6:53:01 PM

Gary Settle was sentenced to serve 177 years in August 1993, at about 26 years old. He is now 58 years old and his projected "RELEASE DATE" is September 11, 2144. Of course, he will long be dead before then. He even started serving his sentence at the Federal SUPERMAX prison in Florence, Colorado, for a few years, before being moved down to a regular penitentiary. With his prostate cancer diagnosis, he was moved to Federal Medical Center, Butner, North Carolina. When on chemotherapy, he takes 50 pills per day, in an effort to remain alive to see his mother on the outside again.

Posted by: Jim Gormley | May 26, 2024 7:07:08 PM

As is often said of Trump, he would do better to follow existing norms and let the pre-existing clemency process do its job before using the pardon power.

The Constitution vests plenary clemency power in the President, but it has been misused so often in recent years -- to pardon buddies and political allies -- that the plenary nature of the power should be reconsidered.

Posted by: Bill Otis | May 26, 2024 8:38:23 PM

I think the idea of Trump issuing a mass pardon to J6 defendants makes about as much sense as the Dem push to overpunish them.

Which is to say, none.

Posted by: William Jockusch | May 27, 2024 12:27:30 AM

Bill, Trump may be better served, but why should people subjected to a blindingly unfair process stay one more day in jail than they should? I do agree that those that assaulted cops should be reviewed closely. We should look at what the people who assaulted the police outside of the WH (when Trump had to be taken to a secure location) got for a good comparison.

Posted by: federalist | May 27, 2024 11:06:18 AM

Jim Gormley,

How is an effective life sentence not an appropriate sentence for the described offenses? Note that I see criminal activity as a result of drugs as being an aggravating rather than mitigating factor.

Posted by: Soronel Haetir | May 27, 2024 11:28:43 AM

federalist --

"Bill, Trump may be better served, but why should people subjected to a blindingly unfair process stay one more day in jail than they should?"

They shouldn't. The problem is determining who in particular was subjected to an unfair process, and doing so in a way that's balanced and politically neutral.

For years if not decades, I've been campaigning to keep law separate from politics. The perils of not doing so are now on vivid display in Manhattan. There are even many liberals who concede that this Alvin Bragg prosecution of Trump -- 34 felony charges for something remarkably akin to lying to your diary -- is somewhere between a bad thing and a travesty. Until the separation of law and politics, once a staple of our jurisprudence, regains its hold on American culture, we're going to be in big, big trouble with no discernible way out.

So what should happen is not for Trump to simply release people as part of a campaign promise; what should happen is for Trump to order DOJ to expedite a review whether and to what extent individual defendants were prosecuted merely out of political bile, and then remedy those cases with clemency.

If we follow the Left down a political rathole, what will happen is not justice; what will happen is that we'll all be in a rathole. The object of the game should be to get out of it.

Posted by: Bill Otis | May 27, 2024 11:44:34 AM

Bill,

That's very well to say, but I do have to wonder how we back away from this brink. There is political profit to be had from both sides in continuing, and unilateral disarmament a (potentially even worse) disaster.

Note that, unlike Federalist, I do not see the Jan. 6 prosecutions as being politically motivated. Those are just a case of "if you try for the king, you had best not miss" in action. I do agree regarding Bragg in New York.

Posted by: Soronel Haetir | May 27, 2024 1:08:37 PM

Bill, can you explain a bit more how you expect DOJ to figure out when "individual defendants were prosecuted merely out of political bile"? Do you expect DOJ will conclude there is a large number of persons federal prosecuted and convicted on the basis of such bile? Many, many people --- eg, Donald Trump and Marilyn Mosby and Philip Esformes and Lori Laughlin and the ghost of Ted Stevens --- might be interested to know why you think DOJ does not avoid being influenced by such "political bile" in the first instance and why we should trust DOJ to do better anytime soon.

Posted by: Doug B | May 27, 2024 3:39:40 PM

Doug --

"Bill, can you explain a bit more how you expect DOJ to figure out when "individual defendants were prosecuted merely out of political bile"?"

I'm happy to tell you that that question is above my pay grade. Maybe appoint Michael Mukasey as a Special Master, since he's a man of widely recognized integrity, even among his opponents. See if you can get some input from Justice Breyer too, as he has a similar reputation.

"Do you expect DOJ will conclude there is a large number of persons federal prosecuted and convicted on the basis of such bile?

No.

As to why we should trust DOJ: For the most part, it has earned trust over the decades, but the fact that being trusted is not a realistic possibility in the present circumstances is the reason I suggest the appointment of a Special Master.

Posted by: Bill Otis | May 27, 2024 6:31:51 PM

Donald Trump: the most divisive, malignant and pernicious politician since Jefferson Davis.

Posted by: anon13 | May 28, 2024 11:52:18 PM

anon13, for many and varied reasons, Trump also ranks right up there with Aaron Burr and Benedict Arnold.

Posted by: Mary quite Contrary | May 28, 2024 11:56:01 PM

What Donald Trump should do--figure out any way to incarcerate Biden, Strzok, Lisa Page, "Judge" Sullivan, Kevin Clinesmith, the Bragg prosecution team, Merchan etc. etc.

Posted by: federalist | May 29, 2024 8:53:39 AM

Much as I am annoyed by the over-sentencing of J6 defendants, I would greatly prefer to see justice meted out to the people involved in prosecuting Karen Read.

Posted by: William Jockusch | May 29, 2024 12:50:29 PM

Trump convicted on all 34 counts!

O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!”

Posted by: anon14 | May 30, 2024 5:27:03 PM

WJ,

"I would greatly prefer to see justice meted out to the people involved in prosecuting Karen Read."

I hadnt heard about this so I looked it up.

John O'Keefe was a Boston PD officer with 16 years on the force. The claim is that his girlfriend ran him down and killed him with an SUV.

So let's see about her.

"Karen A. Read (born 1979) is from Taunton and graduated from Bentley University with a Bachelor's degree and a Master's degree in finance.[5][6][7] She had been a financial analyst at Fidelity Investments since 2007, and was an adjunct professor at Bentley University.[2][8] Read lived in Mansfield at the time of O'Keefe's death.[2] O'Keefe and Read began dating in 2019.[2] "

Financial analyst, plenty of money. Also they werent married so O'Keefes estate wouldn't be a motive.

But, shes a college professor. In Massachusetts.

Did she run O'Keefe down while driving back from a pro-terrorist encampment in Harvard Yard?

Her bio screams Democrat. And Democrats hate cops. Thats enough to convict her in my book. MAGA

Posted by: MAGA 2024 | May 30, 2024 9:13:14 PM

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