A recent RAND study revealed the potential for racial bias, but the more fundamental problem is that the federal criminal legal system relies too heavily on the extraordinary power of the presidency to perform tasks that are essentially routine, writes a former U.S. Pardon Attorney.
Though evidence of racial bias in the Office of the Pardon Attorney’s (OPA) pardon-petition practices is statistically insignificant, a RAND Corporation report found that successful pardon seekers are most likely to be U.S.-born white men who commit white collar crimes.
In an effort seen as a rebuke of Donald Trump’s transactional approach to clemency, which bypassed the Justice Department with a wave of late pardons and commutations to people with wealth or connections, President Joe Biden’s administration has signaled that pardons or commutations could be implemented by the midpoint of his term.
President Donald Trump so far has granted pardons or commutations mostly to people who had either a personal or political connection to the White House. Only seven were recommended by the federal pardon attorney.
President Donald Trump issued pardons and sentence commutations for 29 more people on Wednesday, including his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and Charles Kushner, the father of his son-in-law and White House adviser, Jared.
Some of President Donald Trump’s actions have seemed intended to send clear messages, such as grants of clemency for George Papadopoulos, the former campaign operative whose 2016 activities triggered the FBI probe that led to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.
The Minnesota Board of Pardons commuted the life sentence of Myon Burrell, a Black man who was sentenced to life in prison as a minor. The Associated Press and American Public Media reported on police failings in the case.