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ProPublica study reveals striking racial disparities in presidential pardons
And justice for all? A study broke this weekend that flies in the face of that notion. ProPublica journalists Dafna Linzer and Jennifer LaFleur investigated the last decade’s worth of presidential pardons, and found some alarming things. For starters, white applicants were four times more likely to receive a pardon than minority applicants, with blacks having the lowest chance of approval. After taking office, President Bush outsourced the pardons process to lawyers in the Office of the Pardon Attorney, who claim their protocol for examining cases never included any mention of the applicant’s race, but that non-statistical factors like candor and remorse were taken into account. That said, there are striking examples of minorities being denied for very similar or lesser offenses than successful white applicants. Of the thirty-four drug-related pardons President Bush authorized, all were white. Of President Obama’s twenty-two total pardons to date, twenty have been white. Pro Publica’s reporting on this is excellent, and far more in-depth than we can possibly summarize; we urge you to look for yourself.
Exhibit A Two women, one white and one black, both from the same city in Texas, filed for pardons on tax related offenses. The black woman had been fined $3000 for underreporting her income in 1989, while the white woman had faked multiple tax returns to reap over $25,000; only the white woman’s pardon was approved.
Exhibit B A first-time, black drug offender from South Carolina was given probation for possessing 1.1 grams of crack; his pardon was denied. Conversely, a white four-time offender, who had served prison time for selling 1,050 grams of methamphetamine, was pardoned; only the white man’s pardon was approved. source
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And justice for all? A study broke this weekend that flies in the face of that notion. ProPublica journalists Dafna Linzer and Jennifer LaFleur investigated the last decade’s worth of presidential pardons, and found some alarming things. For starters, white applicants were four times more likely to receive a pardon than minority applicants, with blacks having the lowest chance of approval. After taking office, President Bush outsourced the pardons process to lawyers in the Office of the Pardon Attorney, who claim their protocol for examining cases never included any mention of the applicant’s race, but that non-statistical factors like candor and remorse were taken into account. That said, there are striking examples of minorities being denied for very similar or lesser offenses than successful white applicants. Of the thirty-four drug-related pardons President Bush authorized, all were white. Of President Obama’s twenty-two total pardons to date, twenty have been white. Pro Publica’s reporting on this is excellent, and far more in-depth than we can possibly summarize; we urge you to look for yourself.

  • Exhibit A Two women, one white and one black, both from the same city in Texas, filed for pardons on tax related offenses. The black woman had been fined $3000 for underreporting her income in 1989, while the white woman had faked multiple tax returns to reap over $25,000; only the white woman’s pardon was approved.
  • Exhibit B A first-time, black drug offender from South Carolina was given probation for possessing 1.1 grams of crack; his pardon was denied. Conversely, a white four-time offender, who had served prison time for selling 1,050 grams of methamphetamine, was pardoned; only the white man’s pardon was approved. source

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December 6, 2011 // 14:41 // 2 years ago
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