As Courage the Turkey received the official Obama Thanksgiving pardon yesterday, Radley Balko quoted this Debra Saunders lament:
According to political science Professor P.S. Ruckman Jr. of Rock Valley College in Illinois, Obama, a former constitutional law professor, has taken longer to use the executive pardon and commutation power than all but four presidents – George Washington, John Adams, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.
Obama hasn’t pardoned a single ex-offender, even though about 1,200 people have asked for pardons because they have turned their lives around, expressed remorse for their crimes and now want to wipe the criminal slate clean of long-past offenses for which they paid the penalty.
Nor has Obama commuted the sentence of any of the 2,000 or so federal inmates seeking sentence reductions – many because of draconian federal mandatory minimum sentences.
And Radley follows up with a lament of his own:
It’s telling that over the last three administrations, the one exectuvie power Clinton, Bush, and Obama have been reluctant to make broad use of is the one that grants clemency, forgiveness, and justice to the governed.
Read on for his citation of Alexander Hamilton defending the pardon power as a last check against injustice. Good stuff.
One small point that I would add is that even with a pardon, even with a conviction expunged, employers demand that any and all arrests be declared and outside vendors do criminal background checks that go far beyond and imagined statute of limitations.
Ours is, in fact and act, a very frightened and unforgiving culture.