On Monday Obama used his clemency powers to grant 78 pardons and 158 commutations according to the White House, which was the most individual acts of clemency in a single day by a president in US history.
Today Obama doubled the amount of pardons he’s given, but he still has pardoned less prisoners than any other modern president. However, he’s still used his powers of clemency over 1,000 times. Just a less powerful version: commutations. Including those that were done today, Obama has now commuted the sentences of 1,176 people, including 395 life sentences. Most of the sentences he shortened were federal prison inmates with lengthy, mandatory-minimum drug sentences convicted during the war on drugs that’s been happening over the last three decades. Now Obama’s completed more acts of clemency since any other president of the US since President Truman.
Last year Obama granted 95 pardons and commutations around the same time of year, which at the time was the largest single day use of his clemency power. He’s continued this pattern of granting “holiday” pardons, and has received criticism for it, with critics calling it a “broken process.” According to Obama, it’s “another step forward in upholding our fundamental ideals of justice and fairness.” Besides the Iranian Nuclear Deal, the last four rounds of pardons Obama’s granted it’s been this time of year.
However, there may possibly more pardons coming. In August Obama said “By the time I leave office, the number of pardons that we grant will be roughly in line with what other Presidents have done,” With only 32 days left in Obama’s term, and 40 pardon’s short of being in “roughly in line” it’s quite possible we’ll see more pardons before Obama leaves.
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