Obama’s Clemency Rate Lowest in Recent Presidential History

Tuesday, November 06, 2012
Eugenia Jennings,only commutee

Critics of President Barack Obama cannot fault him for being soft on convicted criminals, not when it comes to granting pardons and commutations.


Among recent U.S. presidents at the same point in their presidencies, Obama has issued the fewest pardons, according to a review by ProPublica.


Out of 1,041 requests since 2008, the president has pardoned only 22 people, for a rate of 1 in 50.


In comparison, Ronald Reagan pardoned 1 of every 3 applicants, George H.W. Bush 1 in 16, Bill Clinton 1 in 8 and George W. Bush 1 in 33.


Commutations, which allow for early release from prison, have been even more rare under Obama. To date, he has commuted just one sentence, which involved a woman dying of leukemia. Eugenia Jennings, who was convicted in 2001 of selling 13.9 grams of crack cocaine to a police informant and was sentenced to 22 years in prison. Obama decided to commute her sentence down to 10 years, allowing her to be released last December.


The chance of having a sentence commuted by Obama is 1 in 5,000. Under George W. Bush, it was about 1 in 1,000. Under Reagan and Clinton, it was 1 in 100.


-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Obama Has Granted Clemency More Rarely than any Modern President (by Dafna Linzer, ProPublica)

Obama Issues First Commutation of Sentence (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

List of Commutation Denials (pdf)


P.S. Ruckman, Jr. 5 years ago
See more comprehensive data on clemency in recent administrations here: http://www.pardonpower.com/2012/11/president-sitting-on-dozen-positive.html

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