Obama Commutes 214 More Sentences

President Obama today commuted 214 more federal sentences, bringing his total to 564, more than the previous 9 presidents combined.

67 of today's commutations went to those serving life sentences with no chance of release. To date, he has commuted 197 life sentences. (Some were commuted to 30 years, not time served.)

The numbers:

  • 2.2 million Americans are incarcerated at a cost to taxpayers of $80 billion a year
  • 50% of federal inmates are serving sentences for drugs

More than 12,000 clemency and pardon requests were still pending in June. Since 2009, more than 23,000 requests for clemency were received. Half of them were denied or closed without presidential action.

Obama has only 7 months to get through the remaining 12,000 petitions.

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    Yet another reason why who is elected matters a (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by ruffian on Wed Aug 03, 2016 at 04:46:14 PM EST
    great deal. Obama is a good person, IMHO.

    Reading about this (none / 0) (#1)
    by CaptHowdy on Wed Aug 03, 2016 at 03:56:24 PM EST
    According to wiki there have only been about 20,000 in the 20th century. (Before today presumably)

    If O does 12,000 that would be a pretty great record.  

    What I haven't so far found is the president who pardoned more on one day.  The sound bite today is "most in one day that in over a century"

    Woodrow Wilson was president in 1916.

    Anyone know? If I find it o will pass it on.

    The "Pardon Power" blog (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by Peter G on Wed Aug 03, 2016 at 05:43:34 PM EST
    is the go-to site on this subject.

    Interesting (none / 0) (#6)
    by CaptHowdy on Wed Aug 03, 2016 at 06:12:25 PM EST
    That site seems to disagree with what I have seen and read several times today.   One of the top posts says "Obama set a record for pardons in one day"
    All day I've been hearing it's the most since 1900.

    With the stroke of a pen, you can release a federal prisoner. And Obama just did that for 214 people, the most commutations in a single day since 1900. In total Obama has granted 562 early sentences, more than any president since Calvin Coolidge, according to USA Today.


    I did notice the little chart did not seem to go back to 1900

    My bit about McKinley and the Mormons was just a guess as a result of my google of who was president in 1900.


    That link was USA Today (none / 0) (#7)
    by CaptHowdy on Wed Aug 03, 2016 at 06:17:14 PM EST
    Yeah, the headline says pardons (none / 0) (#13)
    by ruffian on Wed Aug 03, 2016 at 07:02:54 PM EST
    but the article says commutations. I think it was just a sloppy headline writer.

    I think it is commutations, not pardons (none / 0) (#8)
    by ruffian on Wed Aug 03, 2016 at 06:24:22 PM EST
    that he set the record for. Or for which he set the record.

    Ok (none / 0) (#9)
    by CaptHowdy on Wed Aug 03, 2016 at 06:28:20 PM EST
    I'll go with that..  Because I was getting very confused because on a second look the "little chart" I was talking about does in fact have some dates in the 1800s.



    That said (none / 0) (#10)
    by CaptHowdy on Wed Aug 03, 2016 at 06:29:37 PM EST
    That's not what the paragraph and link I quoted sez.

    Not to beat this dying horse further (none / 0) (#11)
    by CaptHowdy on Wed Aug 03, 2016 at 06:55:29 PM EST
    But I find this interesting and I just wonder if they are using different metrics.

    I think that site I linked to is rightish but it was random

    here's a list of links on the subject

    This is from NPR-

    President Obama has commuted the sentences of 214 federal inmates -- "almost all" of whom were serving sentences for nonviolent crimes. According to the White House, it's the "most grants in a single day since at least 1900."

    This is from the pardons site-

    Word is President Obama will be granting 214 commutations of sentence today. If so, it will be a record for commutations of sentence granted in a single day.

    The previous record was set by Franklin Roosevelt on July 26, 1935. On that day, FDR granted 151 commutations of sentence. Below is a chart of grants that, at the time, established a record for commutation grants in a single day. For those with more technical knowledge of clemency, President Obama's record is clearly established even with the blur between commutations and pardons that existed in the 1700s and 1800s.

    Hey I can go down a metrics rabbit hole (5.00 / 2) (#12)
    by ruffian on Wed Aug 03, 2016 at 07:01:46 PM EST

    The key might be in the final sentence of the second piece you quoted. Apparently in the 1800's they may have counted commutations and pardons in the same number. So they have to say most commutations  since 'at least' 1900 because they can't tell for sure about the numbers before then.


    Again (none / 0) (#16)
    by CaptHowdy on Wed Aug 03, 2016 at 08:54:04 PM EST
    I like your explanation but......the "little list"

    it has dates from the 1800s


    Well...god bless the Cleveland administration (none / 0) (#17)
    by ruffian on Wed Aug 03, 2016 at 09:01:50 PM EST
    I guess they counted commutations separately from pardons?  The granddaddies of big data!

    Apparently (none / 0) (#2)
    by CaptHowdy on Wed Aug 03, 2016 at 04:00:05 PM EST
    William McKinley

    They say it's the most since 1900.  He was Prez.


    Maybe cause of this? (none / 0) (#3)
    by CaptHowdy on Wed Aug 03, 2016 at 04:01:29 PM EST

    Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints - Granted amnesty and pardon for the offense of engaging in polygamous or plural marriage to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church).[14]

    Who seriously thinks he might do (none / 0) (#14)
    by Peter G on Wed Aug 03, 2016 at 08:04:21 PM EST
    12,000? No way. He may have 12,000 applications backed up in the Office of Pardon Attorney at DoJ (which compiles the files, screens them, and makes recommendations). But it is now fairly clear that he is not going to do thousands, as some of us had hoped he would.

    Didn't really mean he would (none / 0) (#15)
    by CaptHowdy on Wed Aug 03, 2016 at 08:15:20 PM EST
    Still he's not doing bad, right?  More than only one previous president?

    no, not bad, but (none / 0) (#18)
    by Peter G on Wed Aug 03, 2016 at 10:13:23 PM EST
    We do have zillions more in prison than ever before, serving far longer sentences than was ever thought appropriate until 20 or so years ago, and all for no socially useful purpose.

    Is this really rocket science (none / 0) (#19)
    by jondee on Thu Aug 04, 2016 at 09:28:12 AM EST
    or string theory or something?

    We just look at the countries that have the lowest rates of violent crime, the lowest number of people in prison, and the lowest recidivism rates and copy what they do as much as possible.

    We. Maybe that's the problem. We never get around to addressing these issues constructively or creatively as a society because We like to flatter-delude ourselves that we're a nation of hypercompetitive, 'rugged individualist' Me's accidentally stuck here together..

    That is, until there's another war, when we're all suddenly called upon to sacrifice and stand together as a nation..


    ... a huge majority of citizens demanded that our politicians put forth greater efforts to be "tough on crime." I know that for a fact, because I was there. I had to listen to all the phone calls and read all the testimony that flooded our offices in support of such draconian measures as "Three Strikes" laws.

    Hindsight's always 20 / 20. And while it's since become fashionable for some of us to deny ever being in support of "tough on crime" legislation, we're just covering our a$$es. America's dirty little secret is the fact that 20 years ago, very few people, elected officials and citizens alike, so much as considered the actual -- and compounding -- costs to be incurred prospectively by locking people up for life after a third offense, or by amending our criminal statutes to convert what had heretofore been misdemeanor offenses into felonies.

    Such public grandstanding and d!ickswinging ultimately proved to be very expensive, as we proceeded to turn incarceration into a quasi-industrial complex. We were further compelled to divert funds from other priorities such as public education and health care to pay for it all, because silly creatures of the moment that we were, we were also cutting taxes and thus slashing government revenues at the same time.

    Yours was then a voice crying in the wilderness, Peter.


    Didn't 50 or so (none / 0) (#24)
    by TrevorBolder on Thu Aug 04, 2016 at 04:51:42 PM EST
    Of those with these commuted sentences also have firearms violations?
    Isn't 1 method of gun control to punish those possessing illegal firearms?
    Mixed messages.

    Many of those (none / 0) (#20)
    by CoralGables on Thu Aug 04, 2016 at 12:15:36 PM EST
    Commutations by Woodrow Wilson dealt with German/Americans who were arrested and found guilty during World War I for having the temerity to speak German.  Many of them were living in Kentucky. My great great grandfather was one of those who either received a pardon or commutation at the end of World War I.

    wow, interesting. Could have been my grandfather (none / 0) (#22)
    by ruffian on Thu Aug 04, 2016 at 04:44:21 PM EST

    Same here (none / 0) (#23)
    by CaptHowdy on Thu Aug 04, 2016 at 04:45:38 PM EST
    Albert Hansen (none / 0) (#25)
    by CaptHowdy on Thu Aug 04, 2016 at 05:31:58 PM EST
    my great grandfather

    Barely spoke English I'm told.  If I remember correctly that was taken in 1917.  I've been told we look very much alike.


    Where was he from? (none / 0) (#26)
    by ruffian on Thu Aug 04, 2016 at 08:06:33 PM EST
    Here is my great grandpa Gustave. He was born in Eberfeld, near Dusseldorf in Rhineland.  There is no family resemblance I can see at all. I don't have any pictures of his wife, maybe my dad's dad took after her! He came to the US is 1877 so probably spoke English by 1917 - hope so anyway, for his sake!

    The area around Nneuschwanstein (none / 0) (#27)
    by CaptHowdy on Thu Aug 04, 2016 at 08:11:19 PM EST
    My mom had a passed down photo of the famous castle she was told loomed over their town.

    Cool, the sleeping beauty castle! (none / 0) (#28)
    by ruffian on Thu Aug 04, 2016 at 08:46:47 PM EST
    To us Disney addicts.

    Just learned some commutation/pardon (none / 0) (#29)
    by ruffian on Sat Aug 06, 2016 at 07:56:33 PM EST

    One person in the US has gotten a commutation and also a pardon, from two different presidents:

    Patty Hearst, from Carter, then Clinton. Carter was the one that made the case to Clinton for the pardon on her behalf.