President Obama on Friday granted pardons to 17 people for minor offenses and non-violent crimes. This nearly doubles the pardons he has granted since taking office 4 years ago. The move is likely to reduce criticism that the president has received for being strict with pardons, even more so than President Bush or nearly any other president in American history.
The crimes committed were years ago and included such minor crimes as possessing an illegal firearm, changing a U.S. money order, falsely acquiring food stamps and drug offenses. The recipients of the pardons came from 13 different states.
Twelve of pardoned people had been placed on probation and 5 of them sentenced to be incarcerated from 54 days to five years.
These are the first pardons of Obama’s second term in office, he granted his first pardons in December 2010. Nine people were then granted pardons for offenses which included possession of drugs and counterfeiting. Another eight were pardoned in May 2011 and five more in November that year. All were for minor offenses.
According to the Department of Justice’s Office of the Pardon Attorney, before this latest batch, Obama had pardoned 22 people out of a total of 1,333 people partitioning for them. This boils down to 1.65 percent of the total number of partitions being granted.
Whereas former president George W. Bush gave 7.57 percent of the people requesting pardons, 2,498 to 189 and former president Bill Clinton gave 19.79 percent of 2,001 requested pardons making 396, according to the data.
Some critics say that this shows that Obama is rather parsimonious in giving out clemency.
P. S. Ruckman Jr., RockValleyCollege, political scientist said, “He’s not only being extremely stingy, but he’s giving pardons to people who arguably need them the very least.” He went on to say, “The people who need pardons are people in their 30s and 40s and 50s who are trying to get jobs and raise families.”
Author of “The Presidential Pardon Power”, Jeffrey Crouch, American University, said, “The president’s pattern has been pretty much to go for the safe route — look for older offenses, nonviolent offenses — and using the pardon power in some cases just enough to not be criticized for not using it at all.”
White House spokesman, Matt Lehrich, stated that, “As he has in past years, the president granted these individuals clemency because they have demonstrated genuine remorse and a strong commitment to being law-abiding, productive citizens and active members of their communities.” He offered no other information about why Obama selected these 17 individuals for pardons.