With President Obama planning to give clemency to hundreds more federal inmates before he leaves office on Friday, the Washington Post commends him in an editorial for having commuted the sentences of 1,176 people, including 231 on a single day in December. He has also granted 148 pardons, “and thankfully avoided any embarrassing forgiveness for high-profile donors or cronies,” the Post says. the newspaper says Obama “devoted far too little attention” to the issue in his first term, when he granted mercy to only a handful of people.
An Obama clemency initiative in 2014 has been followed by a surge of applications. At year’s end, there were 13,568 requests for commutation and 2,154 for pardon. Had Obama moved earlier to establish a regular process for executive clemency, many of these might have been dealt with in a more timely fashion, the Post says. The outlook for clemency in a Donald Trump presidency is not very promising, given the president-elect’s law-and-order campaign rhetoric. The Post says Obama should urge Trump to “set up a process for clemency decisions early on, and stick with it.”