Begging Your Pardon, President Obama!

White House turns back on clemency, including reduced sentences

The former justice official cited earlier, who would speak only on condition of anonymity, says Obama should appoint his own pardon attorney (Rodgers is a Bush appointee) and place him under control of the White House Counsel, rather than the Justice Department.

In any case, the current system is doubly difficult bureaucratically. The White House is actually re-reviewing the recommendations, which adds yet another layer of scrutiny to the process and further winnows the field.

Adding evidence to this official's comments is the recent report issued by the Justice Department's Inspector General. The report charitably points out that the Pardon Attorney's Office "utilized a reasonable approach" to investigating the merits of these requests and is "processing" petitions faster. But the meat of the document is actually a fairly tough criticism of that office's work during the current administration.

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images
Holder: burned in Clinton-era pardons scandal
OECD Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
Holder: burned in Clinton-era pardons scandal

One of the pardons granted by Obama does seem to fit with the goals of the program: that of Allen Peratt, a former drug addict and methamphetamine trafficker who found God in prison and became a minister. Peratt set up a church in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and spent the past 20 years ministering to convicts and other people living on the margins of society.

But by the numbers, at least, Obama's quality of mercy in this sphere is rock-bottom. Over the past 100 years, 22 percent of clemency petitions were granted. Between 2005 and 2010, that number dropped to 3 percent. In the period solely under Obama, who has been in office since January 2009, the number is zero.

Meanwhile, the backlog has only blossomed, doubling in six years. The IG report says that, as the number of petitions increased, the president "did not make any decisions on clemency, either up or down, for his first two years in office."

Meanwhile, half of that backlog was stuck in the White House for an average of almost 10 months. So Obama simply wasn't acting on the requests. Moreover, the FBI, U.S. Attorneys' Offices, and other federal law-enforcement agencies weren't responding quickly to the pardon attorney's requests for paperwork. In one case, an agency didn't respond for 16 months.

"We found that on average it took almost two years to process clemency petitions from the receipt to the president's final decision, which may have contributed to the growing backlog," the report says.

The report also indicates that Rodgers himself handles all of the commutation petitions. "Presently, the Pardon Attorney processes all commutation petitions with the assistance of two OPA support staff members, rather than assigning the commutations to OPA attorneys," the report says.

Love, one of Rodgers's predecessors, says: "It's hard to see how one lawyer could possibly have investigated and prepared a meaningful report on the over 3,000 petitions that have been denied by Obama and another 1,000 apparently awaiting action. This report is very revealing. It documents the destruction of the apparatus."

Whether by political consideration or internal politics, people like Peter Stanham and Benjamin Share are languishing in this clemency purgatory created by the Obama administration. And they're not even receiving either a thumbs-up or thumbs-down.

Share was convicted six years ago in connection with a scheme to bribe an official to obtain a government contract for a Navy base in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania. Share was 76 years old at the time and was owner and operator of Vector Systems Inc., a Pennsylvania defense contractor. Before that, he had been chief legal counsel for the Navy base. He was sentenced to serve 10 years, with a release date in 2015. Now 83 and in worsening health, Share is housed in the Minersville, Pennsylvania, minimum-security federal prison.

For the past year, his daughter, Linda Share, has been waiting for an answer to her clemency appeal from the White House and the Justice Department. She has heard only silence.

Once her own daughter graduated from high school, Linda Share sold her home and relocated to her father's house, so she could be closer to him and conduct what has become a full-time campaign to win his release. She wants her father to be allowed to go home and serve out the rest of his sentence under house arrest, under which he would get better medical care than he would in prison.

In a letter to Obama's pardon attorney, Linda Share writes that her father feels profound remorse for his conviction. "His age and health, coupled with the time he has left to serve, make it highly unlikely that he will live to serve out his sentence," she wrote. "So he comes before you now a different and broken old man . . . His sentence is truly a death sentence . . . I am seeking your compassion as one who hopes you can understand the depth of love a daughter has for her ailing yet imperfect father."

In addition to more than a dozen of letters of support filed with the pardon attorney's office on behalf of Benjamin Share, the judge who sentenced him to prison has also written that she backs the home-confinement request. Moreover, the case prosecutor provided a letter saying he "neither supports nor opposes" home confinement.

Despite that, there has been no sign of any action one way or the other. "I moved with the hopes that I could care for him if he was placed in home confinement," Linda Share says. "I'm not asking for his sentence to be changed, but I believe he's served enough time in prison at this point. So far, we haven't heard anything."

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19 comments
MrsJC
MrsJC

In a country where people are always waving a cross because Religion rules where does compassion come into the picture?

What Would Jesus Do" I believe the answer is to seek  justice.So where are all the cross bearing citizens? This is an obvious injustice. Didn't anyone learn in church to care for others? Shame on any one who considers them self to be a moral and religious person and turn a blind eye to the suffering of others. Those who have the ability to take action and help do nothing  can spend eternity wondering why they have been forsaken. We are supposed to be our brother's keeper.

 

Did Jesus not say:   

‘I assure you that whatever you failed to do to the humblest of my brothers you failed to do to me.’

Paul Rusin
Paul Rusin

Rwjohnson40: The Obama Justice Dept., also failed to prosecute the New Black Panthers for intimidation at the polls in Philadelphia; tried to prosecute terrorists (enemy combatants) in U.S. courts, instead of in military courts where they belonged; put together a failed 'Fast & Furious' gun running scheme to track illegal weapons in a foreign country w/o that countries permission, caused the deaths of hundreds, if not thousands of Mexican citizens, and the deaths of at least one U.S. border patrol agent. He's doing a bang up job.

Rwjohnson40
Rwjohnson40

The justice department under Obama and Holder will be remembered in history as one of the worst! They have failed to prosecute Bush-Cheney war crimes. They are going to prosecute medical marijuana dispensaries in California. They supported the extension of the Patriot Act with all the privacy invasions you can imagine. Holder makes Alberto Gonzales look like Louis Brandis!

Winemaster2
Winemaster2

The US Justice department suck to high heavens and the people employed there are just patronage hacks doing bidding of the system that is rotten to the core. That is precisely this nation is stacked high with ever growing prison population and the taxpayers burdened with his unholy and down right idiocy. Let alone this business of clemency and pardons which may not be front burner issue, the DOJ is uncaring, negligent and down right abusive when it come to the proliferation of use, abuse, exploitation of these intelligence agencies, their outsourced cohorts all the way down from the CIA, FBI, any and all military intelligence, NSA etc who are with coercion and conservative republican instigators in the first place do absolutely nothing to stop harassing innocent US citizens. Obama administration does not even know or just does not care to find out what is really going on.

His initial mistake is to keep all the conservative republican Bushee and others including a slew of them in the DOJ, FBI Directors himself his subs, even Bill Gates the Bush DOD Secretary etc. Then he assembled himself with Clinton hog wash advisers relating to the economy , the banking fiasco, the siege mentality that this nation is saddled with, plus this big white elephant of the home land security. The whole national security entourage is gun ho conservative, with mind set that the rest of the world is US enemy. This this ideology goes back to Reagan conservative revolution and was triply reinforced when Bush/ Cheney took over with Karl Rove in the WH, Condi Rice as National Security Adviser, Rumsfeld at DOD and these conservative republicans for 8 years engaging in the secret govt of executive privilege with aiding, abetting of the conservative republican dominated US Supreme court that condoned all the Bush / Cheney hog wash that led this nation to be economic terror siege, ideologically divided, polarized and on a fast track of self destruction from within.

Obama is stuck with priorities that he cannot fix or resolve because the US Congress in which over 85% of the people has no confidence and the Judicial Branch of the Govt is equally malfeasance, derelict, abusive and corrupt. Jurisprudence in this nation is a business and the connected good old boys fix everything as per what they consider is right. Guilt or innocence is totally irrelevant..

Let us assume that what is presented in this article is absolutely correct. Nevertheless this system is not working because the Judicial Branch is far more wacko, dysfunctional, and passing the buck. These Judges at all levels, except for a handful, are all inefficient, negligent, control freaks, exercising abuse, and power. The prosecutors vicious dogs, that lie, cheat to score convictions to enhance their careers.

If the DOJ is bogged down and the Executive out of the loops in these cases, where clemency and pardons petitions are not handled, there is an alternative. In 100% of the cases after judgement is dished out the trial judges, who are aware of the circumstance, conditions, health status, age etc have the authority to change things and retain jurisdictions. All that needs to be done is that the attorneys for the defendants file modification of sentences considering mitigating and extra ordinary circumstances. The trial Judges and their colleagues in the Courts where the initial trials took place can review the sentences considering the mitigating factors, conditions, age, medical status and all. Why put the onus on to the Executive and the DOJ for some other hack to waste the taxpayers money and just expand the mess for the executive level politicians to complicate the existing mess.

These trial judges, their cohorts and thousands of them with their senior status can start reviewing this mess and start releasing and or modifying the sentences.

Nevertheless just at the US Supreme Court that only works 9 months a year, the rest of these high and mighty judges are even worst when it come to some compassion, doing the right thing and help this moribund nation that is bogged down in the sewer of its own creation.

Alva
Alva

LIVE A LAWFUL LIFE W/O COMMITTING CRIMES AND THIS BEGGING FOR MERCY WOULD NOT BE NECESSARY. PEOPLE WHO WERE IN THEIR RIGHT MIND SHOULD HAVE CONSIDERED THE CONSEQUENCES OF THEIR CRIMINAL, NONE LOGICAL, ACTIONS PRIOR TO. WE ALL COMMIT LAW VIOLATIONS BUT THESE PEOPLE WENT THE EXTRA STEP ... PUTTING THEM AND THEIR LOVED ONES IN JEOPARDY. JUST THINK!

BlackHeywood
BlackHeywood

To some people life in prison means just that. I happen to agree.

MikeL
MikeL

It's as simple as this..... Do the crime! Do the time!

jpaint
jpaint

Maybe the judicial system should take responsibility for its own actions!!! Village Voice, can you please write an article worth reading! And maybe next time, ask Obama what's going on instead of writing such distracting bullshit.

MaryYoung15
MaryYoung15

....my sisters friend makes $50 an hour on the computer. She has been out of job for 9 months but last month her cheque was $6200 just working on the internet for a few hours. Read about it here CashMany.com

Sakara
Sakara

never ending liberals cry baby stories about how illegal aliens who do crimes shouldn't be locked up in jail but sent home to their native scumbag countries to live the high life.

Linda
Linda

Tomorrow brings another birthday for me. Another birthday spent without the only living parent I have to spend the day with. Next month the President will actually pardon something and it will be a Thanksgiving turkey while my family along with the Curry & Stanton family and over 1,000 other families await a decision from the Pardon Attorney's office. Unfortunately not all of us have all the time in the world to wait for this decision. Linda Daughter of 83 year old inmate Benjamin Shareawaiting a decision since October 2010

Sirreene
Sirreene

Sakara - did you even READ the article? The man is not an illegal alien. He has a green card. You would rather pay for his incarceration with your tax dollars? I would rather he be sent home to the country of this birth.

jpaint
jpaint

you're an idiot.

TioDon
TioDon

Waaaaaaa, I don't care.

James Hodges
James Hodges

The turkey deserves a pardon… it didn’t do anything… If you can’t do the time… don’t do the crime…! “Not all of us have all the time in the world to wait for this decision...?” I beg to differ they have all the time that’s left on their sentence…!

SAKARA
SAKARA

and i guess i gotta go to your level and say; SO ARE YOU!

 
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