President Obama’s nine recent pardons in minor cases, the first of his presidency, were an inadequate use of his pardon power, says the Washington Post in an editorial. The newspaper notes that six of the pardons were for offenses so minor that they did not warrant time behind bars; six offenses were committed three decades ago. Many of those pardoned “have lived productive lives relatively unhampered by their minor infractions,” says the Post.
The president could have pardoned many of the thousands of African American men serving inordinately long sentences for crack cocaine offenses. Obama’s skimpy use of the pardon follows President George W. Bush’s eight years of neglect. Bush pardoned 189 individuals and commuted the sentences of 11 others – the stingiest record of any two-term president since World War II. Obama is on track to underperform Bush, the Post says–“not a record to be proud of.”