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Near the start of his second term, President Obama had granted clemency at a lower rate than any president in recent history. He had pardoned 39 people and denied 1,333 requests. He had used his power to commute a prisoner’s sentence just once. But as Obama enters the final days of his administration, he has dramatically picked up the pace. Read more»

President Barack Obama, shown here signing commutation orders in June 2015, has granted clemency to 1,023 federal prisoners, more by far than any other president. None of those, so far, has gone to an inmate from Arizona.

Arizona and Nevada have never had much in common with Vermont – until last month. Those three are now the only states that have not been touched by President Barack Obama’s record-setting pace of prison sentence commutations, with 1,023 nonviolent federal criminals having their sentences reduced so far. Read more»

President Barack Obama signs a letter in the Oval Office, March 14, 2016.

Two years ago, President Obama unveiled an initiative to give early release to potentially thousands of federal prisoners serving long sentences for low-level drug crimes. The initiative has barely made a dent, and a resignation letter from the president’s recently departed Pardon Attorney lays out at least one reason why. Read more»

Attorney General Eric Holder

President Obama has given just one person early release from prison. Obama has overall granted clemency at a lower rate than any modern president, which includes both commutations – early release – and pardons. The Justice Department rarely gives positive clemency recommendations to the president. Experts have been calling for reform of the entire clemency process. Read more»

Despite new pardons announced earlier this month, the Obama administration has still granted clemency more rarely than any president in recent history. Indeed, the day before the pardons were announced, a Department of Justice spokesman said, Obama had denied 314 other applicants. Read more»

President Barack Obama handed out pardons and commutations at a lower rate than any of his recent predecessors, a ProPublica analysis shows.

President Obama, who has granted clemency at a lower rate than any modern president, has denied pardons for hundreds of applicants. He has parceled out forgiveness far more rarely than his recent predecessors, pardoning just 22 individuals while denying 1,019. Read more» 2

Clarence Aaron was sentenced to three life terms in federal prison without parole for abetting a drug conspiracy. In 2001, he applied for a presidential commutation, an act of clemency he came closer to receiving than he or his advocates knew.

The case of rejected presidential pardon applicant Clarence Aaron illuminates the extraordinary, secretive powers wielded by the Office of the Pardon Attorney, the branch of the Justice Department that reviews commutation requests. Read more»

If the government wants to correct racial disparity in presidential pardons, it will require a hard look at the standards used to judge applicants and whether there is implicit bias in the way decisions are made. Read more»

President Nixon with first lady Pat Nixon and Vice President Gerald Ford and Betty Ford in 1973.

In 1974, Gerald Ford's pardon of Richard Nixon shocked a country divided over Nixon's exit amid the ongoing Watergate scandal. It also tested a friendship of some 25 years — with Ford's press secretary Jerald terHorst, who resigned minutes before the pardon. Read more»

Since 2000, 196 members of Congress have written to the pardons office on behalf of more than 200 donors and constituents. Many of the letters urged the White House and the Justice Department to take special note of felons whom lawmakers described as close friends. Read more»

White criminals seeking presidential pardons over the past decade have been nearly four times as likely to succeed as minorities. Blacks have had the poorest chance of receiving the president's ultimate act of mercy. Read more»