Thursday 7 January 2010

News: Pardon?

Jack Johnson; John Brown

As we begin 2010, the issue of pardoning is in the air. First, in the New York Times, David S. Reynolds called for a posthumous Presidential pardon for John Brown on the 150th anniversary of his hanging:
Justice would be served, belatedly, if President Obama and Governor Kaine found a way to pardon a man whose heroic effort to free four million enslaved blacks helped start the war that ended slavery. Once and for all, rescue John Brown from the loony bin of history.
Second, Senators John McCain and Peter King have been leading a campaign to secure a posthumous pardon for Jack Johnson:
"A posthumous pardon would represent a final vindication to Mr. Johnson's family and to the ignominious stain on our nation's history," McCain and King wrote, "and highlight the achievements of an athlete who was forced into the shadows of bigotry and prejudice" (via the Huffington Post).
But even though both houses of Congress passed resolutions urging a Presidential pardon for Johnson, the Justice Department has recently made it clear that this will be unlikely.

Indeed, the San Francisco Chronicle, has highlighted "Obama's Pardon Drought":
Obama has yet to grant a single clemency petition. He also has yet to deny one. Among past presidents, only four - George Washington, John Adams, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush - have taken longer than Obama to grant their first pardon.
Writing in the Huffington Post at the end of December, Jacob M. Appel went even further, putting out a call for mass clemency for America's incarcerated:
Our nation is long overdue for a mass clemency of non-violent felons and those unlikely to re-offend. Such a collective pardon and commutation would reunite hundreds of thousands of families, save billions of dollars in incarceration costs, and might foster a national spirit of forgiveness and reconciliation.
Is there anyone that you think should receive a pardon, posthumous or otherwise?

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