On March 21, the Huffington Post ran a column focused on President Obama’s clemency powers and indicating that he is tired of “small-time” offenders seeking clemency for the restoration of their gun rights.
The column focused on Obama’s determination to ramp up the use of his clemency powers during the last year and 10 months of his presidency.
According to HuffPo, Obama said he has “faced criticism for rarely using his power to grant pardons and commutations.” He wants that to change, and for the rest of his presidency he especially wants to pardon “federal offenders,” for whom he plans to use clemency more “aggressively.”
Obama blamed his lack of pardons to this point on the Bush administration, pointing out that Ronald L. Rodgers–the head of the Justice Department’s Office of Pardon Attorney–was appointed during George W. Bush’s presidency and did not resign until April 2014. Rodgers’ resignation came two years after the DOJ Inspector General claimed Rodgers “fell substantially short of the high standards to be expected of Department of Justice employees and of the duty that he owned to the President of the United States.”
In comments to the HuffPo on March 20, Obama suggested he is tired of the type of clemency requests that were presented to him during the first six years of his presidency. He said, “I noticed that what I was getting was mostly small-time crimes from very long ago. It’d be a 65-year-old who wanted a pardon to get his gun rights back.”
Non-violent drug offenders will be a large part of Obama’s new clemency focus.
Follow AWR Hawkins on Twitter @AWRHawkins. Reach him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.