Obama Frees More Federal Inmates for Christmas

Obama Frees More Federal Inmates for Christmas
Obama Frees More Federal Inmates for Christmas

There’s only a month left of the Obama administration. We knew the pardons were coming, but what he’s done so far is unprecedented.
The White House released the news of Obama’s clemency craze on Dec. 19, when he granted 153 commutations and 78 pardons to current inmates whom he decided were worthy of a second chance. These 231 individuals were the focus of the largest presidential pardon spree that has ever taken place in one day.
We shouldn’t be surprised. Not only has Obama signed an unprecedented number of executive orders, but he has also used his executive power to reduce or end criminal sentences, called “clemency” more than 1,300 times during his administration.
Obama has currently pardoned a total of 148 inmates convicted of Federal crimes as well as commuting the sentences of 1,176 — including 395 life sentences. That is more clemency than the last 11 presidents combined, but Roosevelt, Truman, Eisenhower, and Wilson all reached four digits with their pardons by their final days in office. More recently, George W. Bush pardoned more people than Obama has so far, but Obama is expected to sign off on many more before it’s all over.
It is normal for a president to pardon prisoners on their way out the door, just not so many in one day. Bill Clinton wielded his pardoning pen to release some of his cronies in his last few hours before the end of his final term.
Obama didn’t bother to wait until the last minute. Of course, that could be because he is waiting to drop an even bigger group of orders before he has to move out of the White House on January 20. What other surprises might he have in store before it’s all over?