President Obama granted clemency to 231 people Monday, including 153 commutations and 78 pardons. From the White House blog:
Today, President Obama granted clemency to 231 deserving individuals — the most individual acts of clemency granted in a single day by any president in this nation’s history. With today’s 153 commutations, the President has now commuted the sentences of 1,176 individuals, including 395 life sentences. The President also granted pardons to 78 individuals, bringing his total number of pardons to 148. Today’s acts of clemency — and the mercy the President has shown his 1,324 clemency recipients — exemplify his belief that America is a nation of second chances.
The 231 individuals granted clemency today have all demonstrated that they are ready to make use — or have already made use — of a second chance. While each clemency recipient’s story is unique, the common thread of rehabilitation underlies all of them. For the pardon recipient, it is the story of an individual who has led a productive and law-abiding post-conviction life, including by contributing to the community in a meaningful way. For the commutation recipient, it is the story of an individual who has made the most of his or her time in prison, by participating in educational courses, vocational training, and drug treatment. These are the stories that demonstrate the successes that can be achieved — by both individuals and society — in a nation of second chances.
The White House also published this graph showing Obama has now issued more commutations than the last 11 presidents combined:
Obama’s total number of pardons is still lower than his predecessor but that is expected to change over his final weeks in office. From Politico:
With Friday’s batch, Obama’s pardon total is up to 148, putting him in striking distance of George W. Bush’s 176 over two terms. Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan each granted just shy of 400 pardons over their eight years in office.
Obama has used commutations to grant second chances to people convicted of drug crimes in an era of harsher sentencing laws. But the pardon rewards people who have used their second chance well, said Margaret Love, the pardon attorney under Presidents Clinton and George H.W. Bush.
The White House blog post ended on a political note saying, “only Congress can achieve the broader reforms needed to ensure over the long run that our criminal justice system operates more fairly and effectively in the service of public safety.”