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.)