FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date: December 18, 2012
Contact: Monica Pratt Raffanel, email@example.com
WASHINGTON, D.C. – FAMM President Julie Stewart today said she felt “maddened but validated” by a report confirming serious misconduct by the Office of the Pardon Attorney (OPA) in its handling of the clemency request of federal prisoner Clarence Aaron, a first-time, nonviolent drug offender serving life without parole.
The report, issued by the Office of the Inspector General of the Department of Justice, concludes that current pardon attorney Ronald L. Rodgers engaged in “conduct that fell substantially short of the high standards expected of Department of Justice employees and the duty he owed the President of the United States” when he did not accurately convey to the White House that the U.S. Attorney and sentencing judge supported a commutation of Aaron’s sentence. Aaron’s commutation request was denied by President George W. Bush in 2008.
Says Stewart, "The report confirms what thousands of clemency denials imply: the Office of the Pardon Attorney has a “just say no” attitude when it comes to clemency requests, no matter how deserving the prisoner or how unjust the sentence. That kind of culture doesn’t serve the interests of justice, the president, or the public. Prisoners grow, change, and deserve second chances. But they’ll never get them unless the president reforms the pardon attorney’s office and ensures that everyone gets a fair shake."
Throughout 2012, FAMM helped organize a bipartisan campaign to investigate and reform the OPA. Letters calling for more clemency grants and greater oversight have come from Representatives Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (D-VA) and John Conyers (D-MI), 15 law professors, dozens of criminal justice reform groups, and 16 formerly incarcerated people whose sentences were commuted by Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush, and Bill Clinton.
ProPublica investigative reporter Dafna Linzer’s story on the new report is the latest in a series of articles revealing that the pardon and commutation review process is broken.
Ms. Linzer’s stories have shown that whites are four times more likely than blacks to be granted pardons, and that commutation requests have been denied by the thousands, raising questions about the seriousness of the review they receive from the small staff of the pardon attorney’s office. President Barack Obama has denied over 4,000 pardon and commutation requests and has granted only 22 pardons and one commutation, the least of any president in recent history.
For more information on FAMM’s demand for accountability at the OPA, visit FAMM's website. FAMM is a national nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that supports fair and proportionate sentencing laws that allow judicial discretion while maintaining public safety.