Clemency Expert Calls Obama’s Effort ‘Last-Minute Lottery’

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Law Prof. Rachel Barkow of New York University, who helped get clemency for 96 convicts from former President Obama, sees the Justice Department’s handling of clemency petitions as a squandered opportunity to free even more people facing unjust sentences, the National Law Journal reports. Barkow, whose group filed petitions for 200 inmates, says that many “were equally deserving and were inexplicably denied. And then we had some people who never got an answer, despite the fact that we filed petitions for them long ago.”

Barkow says Obama “had noble intentions,” but his process of considering clemency petitions “really did become a mess.” She added that, “the pardon attorney did an amazing job, but was forced to work through a process in a system that was not built for this … It was doomed to be this last-minute rush. I read a statistic that 89 percent of the grants came in the last 10 months. That’s no way to run a clemency program. It starts to look like a last-minute lottery.” She hopes that President Donald Trump decides, ” ‘Let me put in place a system and stick with it,’ as opposed to doing it 10 days before they leave.”


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