Every president of the United States has the power to forgive criminals. This forgiveness is called clemency and there are two ways the president can issue it.
The first option is via a commutation, which reduces a criminal’s sentence but does not reverse the conviction. The second option is a pardon, which completely reverses the conviction and restores a criminal’s civil rights.
In recent administrations, the latter form of forgiveness has drummed up controversy by benefiting big political power players. For instance, in 2001, then-President Bill Clinton ignited controversy with last minute pardons given to wealthy donors, including financier Marc Rich.
President Obama once promised to steer clear of Clinton’s mistakes in this area, stating that he wasn’t interested in “clearing out the barn.” Unfortunately, Obama’s promise didn’t reflect reality.
Obama has issued 1,176 commutations, a far greater number than any other president. Additionally, Obama has issued 148 pardons, a figure more in line with other presidents.
The president is planning one more large batch of pardons in his final days in office and there are some notable names publicly lobbying for a reprieve.
Among the public figures appealing to President Obama for compassion are Rod Blegojevich, the corrupt former governor of Illinois and early Obama supporter; Bowe Bergdahl, the Army Sergeant convicted of deserting his post in Afghanistan; and Edward Snowden, the former federal contractor and whistleblower.
H/T: Yahoo News
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