Obama, It's Time to Pardon More Regularly

No more last-minute or Christmas pardons: PS Ruckman Jr.
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 31, 2013 12:56 PM CST
Obama, It's Time to Pardon More Regularly
In this Nov. 14, 2013 file photo, President Barack Obama pauses while speaking about his signature health care law, in the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington.   (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, File)

President Obama is "one of the least merciful presidents in the history of the United States," writes PS Ruckman Jr. for CNN. He's so far granted just 52 pardons, which puts him ahead of the first two US presidents (one of whom only served one term), a president who served 30 days, and another president who served four months. Many in the media have lamented this, urging Obama to pardon more people, but Ruckman has a slightly different idea: Presidents and governors should grant pardons "regularly, consistently, throughout terms, as opposed to, very questionably, at the 'last minute.'"

"While Christmas pardons may make some feel warm and fuzzy," Ruckman continues, "they also send a message that is more counterproductive than anything. They seem to say mercy is an afterthought, or worse, a gift, that may or may not be deserved." The truth is, more people are recognizing that sentencing laws are often unjust, prisons are crowded, budgets are tight, the war on drugs is failing, and there is quite a bit of "over-criminalization" in the law. Most pardons simply restore a recipient's criminal rights, often after the recipient has successfully re-entered society. "So, why can't Obama restore the civil rights of more applicants? Why doesn't he?" Click for Ruckman's full column. (Read more presidential pardon stories.)

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