Can the Next President Match Obama’s Record of Clemency?

Obama promised to use executive clemency as a tool to undo harsh prison sentences that resulted from the “tough on crime” era of federal drug prosecutions. But with plea bargaining increasingly replacing trials, presidential pardons may be even rarer in the years ahead.

Should the AG Look Outside BOP For Its New Director?

On July 23, 42 law professors wrote a letter to the Attorney General, raising concerns about various policies and practices of the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP), and urging her to select BOP’s next Director from outside the agency in order to facilitate change. A few days later, three of the signatories to the July 23 letter published an op ed in the Washington Post making much the same argument, boldly predicting that with this one decision the Attorney General and the President could “reshape the future of the entire federal prison system.” I wish I were as optimistic as the professors who signed the letter. The fundamental flaw in their position, discussed further below, is that it assumes BOP has more control over how it operates than it actually does. But there are also practical reasons why it would be hard to find the right outsider to lead BOP as long as the job remains a career position.