Blog Post

President Obama Takes My Advice and Utilizes His Pardon Power

Anthony Papa

Today President Obama commuted the sentences of eight federal inmates convicted for non-violent drug offenses involving crack cocaine. He also granted pardons to 13 others.   This brings the total  amount of individuals granted relief  to 52 pardons and nine commutations since Obama has been in office.

On December 4, I was invited to go on “Democracy Now” to speak about a blog piece I wrote on this topic. Amy Goodman, the host of the show, asked me what I thought about Obama’s record of using his pardon power?  At that time President Obama had the worst record of all presidents in using the power of executive clemency. Obama had given 39 pardons and one commutation.

You can watch my interview with Democracy Now here.

Holiday season is a traditional time for executives to use their power of clemency or pardons to show mercy to people who are imprisoned under unjust laws. These are people who have already served enormous amounts of time but are stuck in prison and have no legal remedies in which to use to regain their freedom.

I am happy that President Obama has stepped up to the plate and used his executive clemency powers to free 8 people from prison.  Hopefully other sitting governors will follow his lead and use their clemency powers to set free worthy prisoners.

Anthony Papa is the media relations manager for the Drug Policy Alliance and author of 15 to Life: How I Painted my Way to Freedom.

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