On Friday, President Obama gave pardons to 17 people, largely nonviolent offenders who had committed minor crimes. The Presidential pardon is certainly nothing new to American politics. Almost every president issues a pardon every now and then.
Most pardons tend to take place at the end of the year or at the end of a presidential term. There are, of course, special pardons being issued most Novembers as well, but those pardons are for Turkeys only and don’t actually carry any weight of law.
The pardons issued at the end of this week absolutely do carry the full force and weight of the President of the United States, and, because of that, there will be plenty of people taking along hard look at whom the president granted clemency.
When they do take that hard look, they will be finding hardly any hardened criminals. The Washington Post reports that Obama pardons very few people, the 17 on Friday almost doubling the total number.
Those that were pardoned were generally people who had truly done minor offenses and had been sentenced decades ago. Among the offenses was laundering Canadian fish and selling them as American fish, altering a US money order, and procuring food stamps without the proper authorization.
The Huffington Post reports that the Obama administration did not explain why these 17 people received their pardons. One of the reasons why people are looking at these pardons at all is simply because coming into this week, Obama had granted just 22 during his entire presidency.
Reports estimate that since being elected and sworn into office in 2009, the president has received more than 1,300 people. President Obama will have quite a bit of work to do if he wants to catch up to the last two presidents. George W. Bush issued 189 pardons during his administration. Bill Clinton handed out 396.
If Obama pardons 17 people a year for the rest of his term, he would still fall well short of either man.