Criminal Attorney Oklahoma Defense Lawyer Adam R. Banner OKLAHOMA CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY AT LAW

The Oklahoma Legal Group Blog

Obama's Presidential Pardon Record

Adam Banner - Thursday, December 05, 2013

During his terms in office, President Obama has pardoned 11 drug offenders. By comparison, he has pardoned 10 turkeys. Please let that soak in.

While some folks take kindly to the annual turkey pardon tradition held at the White House, I am not one of them. I see too many individuals who have been in jail for too long with too little relief granted. The ceremony offends me when I take into account the lack of pardons that President Obama has bestowed on humans.

For the last five years, the possibility of a presidential pardon has become almost nonexistent, and frankly, I'm baffled. President Obama supposedly shares Attorney General Holder's opposition to long sentences for nonviolent charges, especially low-level drug crimes; nonetheless, we have seen nothing to lead our country to feel confident in the Commander-in-chief's supposed belief.

Moreover, Obama has granted one commutation of sentence. Yep, one single commutation.

What really gets me riled up though is the fact that we are talking about pardons and commutations as opposed to expungments. A pardon is different from an expungement or a sealing of one's criminal record. A pardon is merely an official proclamation of "forgiveness" on behalf of the government.

This forgiveness then allows the individual to have his or her civil liberties, such as gun ownership and voting rights, restored. When a person is pardoned, he or she does not get to withdraw or eliminate the finding of guilt...they are still a convicted felon, and that record will still be there.

Granted, I'd much rather be a pardoned felon than just a regular ol’ felon any day of the week. But the fact that so many individuals who have paid their debt to society are not allowed the common decency of a restoration of the rights we all hold as citizens troubles me greatly.

The same holds true with a commutation: it is not an expungement, and the record stays the same. The only thing that changes is the length of the sentence. A commutation is not as beneficial as a pardon, because you do not necessarily grain any civil liberties, but it is better than no relief at all.

With that in mind, it amazes me that our President has been so conservative with his awesome ability to alter lives. You can read more of my opinion on the subject in my Huffington Post article.

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