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View Diary: Speaking of pardons (updated) (300 comments)

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  •  You need to look back. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BOHICA, IM, capelza, eglantine

    Before the "war on crime" era begun by Nixon, pardons occurred often and had no political timetable. The timetable for when you got a pardon was when the President got around to granting it, not because of some ridiculous "tradition" of doing right before leaving office.

    The modern era of pardoning, which you seem to cite as if it were statute, begins with Ford's pardoning of Nixon. After that, pardons became political rather than what they were meant to be: acts of mercy.

    FDR issued almost 4000 pardons over his 12 years, and about 300 of them were in his first year. In fact, here is one he issued DURING HIS 1936 CAMPAIGN FOR REELECTION. I wont even go into the some 300 pardons FDR issued in his first year in office, or Jeffersons pardons shortly after winning election:

    For example, after the election of 1800, President Jefferson released those still
    imprisoned for violating the hated Alien and Sedition Act. Likewise, Presidents Harrison
    and Cleveland issued blanket pardons to Mormon polygamists in anticipation of Utah’s
    admission to statehood, and President Wilson expressed his opposition to Prohibition by
    pardoning more than 500 liquor law violators after his veto of the Volstead Act was
    overridden. In a more recent "systematic" use of the power evidently intended to send a
    message to Congress, Presidents Kennedy and Johnson commuted the sentences of more
    than 200 drug offenders serving mandatory minimum sentences under the Narcotics
    Control Act of 1956.

    Your characterization of the pardon as some sort of "last days thing" is basically a capitulation to the knee-jerk right wing war on crime. Before Nixon, pardons were considered a normal part of the administration of justice:

    It is less well known that from the early days of the republic the pardon power
    was pressed into regular service as an integral part of the day-to-day operation of the
    federal justice system. At a time when the laws were relatively harsh and inflexible,
    pardon was virtually the only way that federal offenders could have their convictions
    reviewed, prison sentences reduced, and rights of citizenship restored.9 Many pardons
    and sentence commutations were issued each year to ordinary people convicted of garden
    variety crimes, often upon the recommendation of the prosecutor or the sentencing judge.
    10 Far from being an "extraordinary" remedy, pardon was a very ordinary form of early
    release and restoration of citizenship rights.11

    Now, with the U.S. prison population at record levels, a sentencing regime run amok, and a criminal justice system heavily biased against people of color, it seems to be perfectly acceptable for this president to "put politics aside" as he always seems to indicate. There are plenty of people who have submitted reasonable pardons to him and those people deserved a bit of mercy. But instead, they will have to wait until it is politically expedient because people like you are so afraid of what Republicans will say.

    The pardon is an act of mercy. Showing mercy should be a political decision, but a moral one. If you can't understand that, then your opinion of this diary is completely understandable.

    a spook who sits by the door

    by brooklynbadboy on Wed Nov 24, 2010 at 08:20:09 PM PST

    [ Parent ]

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