This week a group of 16 formerly incarcerated people who received sentence commutations from Presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama asked President Obama to make sure that others in their position get the same chance at a fair review from the administration's pardon attorney.
They have reason to believe that's not happening these days.
Their letter, which expressed grievances about the process by which pardons are granted, comes in the wake of investigative journalism by ProPublica investigative journalist Dafna Linzer in the Washington Post that raised serious concerns about the way the Office of the Pardon's Attorney handles clemency requests.
The series began late last year with stories documenting what appeared to be a disturbing racial disparity in pardon grants of clemency. Then a May 13 article told the story of Clarence Aaron, who is serving a life sentence and was allegedly denied a commutation by President George W. Bush after the current pardon attorney, Ronald Rodgers, misrepresented facts about his case to White House counsel.
Read an excerpt of the letter from FAMM:
We fear that the OPA is not giving commutation applicants the thorough review they warrant and denying you the fair and impartial advice you deserve. We ask you to direct that the Attorney General conduct an investigation into the OPA as soon as possible.
Finally, we ask you to grant more commutations. We left behind thousands of people just like us: nonviolent, low-level offenders who made poor choices and terrible mistakes and have since done everything they can to become worthy of a second chance. We are deeply concerned that these friends’ commutation requests have not and will never get a meaningful and unbiased review, and that you will never hear all the facts of their stories.
Read more at Families Against Mandatory Minimums.