What’s Up With These Presidential Pardons Anyways?
By Leah Meyer, 1/25/17
The people of America need to pay attention to whom the President pardons. As President Obama said goodbye to the White House last Friday, people are talking about who he granted pardons for and why.
Article II of the United States Constitution gives the President of the United States the power to “grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States.” Before the presidential power was handed over to President Trump, Obama granted clemency to 231 individuals.
According to the United States Department of Justice website, Obama pardoned people such as James Robert Adelman, who was convicted of five counts of embezzlement and sentenced to 12 years of imprisonment and a $350,000 restitution fee.
There are also other offenders, such as Ronald Lee Foster, who in 1963 was convicted for mutilating coins and then pardoned by Obama on Dec. 3, 2010. People like this are not causing any serious harm or creating an unsafe environment for the people around him. After all those years, he deserved the forgiveness he received because he was not causing any harm. His crime was so minor that if he went about it again, he would not be causing any harm to those around him.
How is forgiveness really viewed?
I am a firm believer in “an eye for an eye” when it comes to punishment for those who have committed serious offenses. I expect that the people who are in jail for crimes such as murder will keep their life sentences or stay on death row to atone for the crimes they have committed. In my eyes, they do not deserve forgiveness for the horrible acts they have committed. I do not want murderers roaming the streets that my family and friends and I use.
However, forgiveness is part of life. Kyle Gaul, a freshman at Whitworth University, is very active in politics. “The President is given the power to pardon and therefore he is the one that gets to decide the degree of forgiveness,” he said.
“Although, I wouldn’t call it forgiveness per se. It’s more like a second chance. A single crime doesn’t make a person evil or define them, and they don’t deserve a life sentence. However, there are evil people out there who do deserve the sentences they receive an I think it’s important to recognize that difference.”
Why should we forgive?
I spoke with the chair of the Spokane County Democrats, Andrew Biviano, who is very active in the Spokane political community, now more than ever due to the recent inauguration of President Trump. He said, “As a follower of Jesus Christ and a child of God, no matter what, you deserve forgiveness.” Biviano does not know how someone could be a follower of Jesus and be opposed to pardons and commutations.
“[Presidential pardons] are indispensable and critical parts of our justice system. People forget that the goal of criminal punishment is to reduce crime and keep us safe. We need forgiveness in the form of pardons as part of our toolbox,” Biviano said.
Justice or injustice?
On Jan. 18, President Obama commuted former Army soldier Chelsea Manning’s sentence. According to CNN, Manning was convicted of stealing and disseminating 750,000 pages of confidential government documents to WikiLeaks, a non-profit organization that publishes secret information, news leaks, and classified media from anonymous sources.
Manning was nearly seven years into her 35-year sentence when Obama granted her commutation. The Obama administration prosecuted approximately 10 similar cases before the end of his term, which according to the New York Times, is more than were charged under all previous presidencies combined.