Obama’s poor record for clemency seems to spring from a tilt toward law and order

President Obama has issued a total of 39 pardons since entering office.


President Obama has issued a total of 39 pardons since entering office.

Your overview of President Obama’s miserable pardoning record (“What pardons could do,” Ideas, March 17) is not nearly depressing enough. In December 2012, the Justice Department’s Inspector General issued scathing findings that the current pardon attorney, Ronald Rodgers, misrepresented key facts about a commutation applicant’s case to the White House. That applicant’s request was denied, but the pardon attorney still has his job.

In addition, previous reporting by ProPublica and The Washington Post revealed that whites are nearly four times as likely to be granted a pardon as blacks. The pardon attorney’s meager staff has so far helped President Obama deny more than 6,700 clemency requests since 2009, raising the question of whether applications are actually getting a meaningful and fair review.


The pardon attorney’s office appears to be captive to the Justice Department’s interests in preserving convictions and long sentences, making the president the victim of biased clemency advice. Obama alone can’t be blamed for the dearth of mercy, but he should be the source of clemency reform.

Molly M. Gill

Government affairs counsel

Families Against

Mandatory Minimums


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