PRESIDENTIAL PARDONS

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Notable Pardons

The Clinton Presidency
[click for information on
Marc Rich, other Clinton pardons, and specific pardons by previous Presidents]

"Early in President Clinton痴 first term there were signs that he might depart from the consistent practice of his predecessors of relying on the Attorney General痴 advice in clemency matters. For example, the White House undertook to respond itself to inquiries about pardon matters, and many of its written responses included a phrase suggesting that the President considered the Justice Department only one of many potential sources of advice. Also, in contrast to past administrations, the Clinton White House did not act on clemency cases in a regular and timely fashion: no grants at all were issued in four of President Clinton痴 first five years in office, and only a relative handful of pardons were granted in later years, usually at Christmas. The total number of cases decided did not keep pace with the unprecedented number of new applications each year, so that the case backlog reported by the Pardon Attorney grew steadily larger. When President Clinton departed Washington on January 20, he left behind him well over 3000 pending clemency cases, all of which are now of course the responsibility of the Bush Administration....

Several months before the end of President Clinton痴 second term, reports began to circulate that there would be a large number of grants at the end of his term. This by itself would be unusual, for pardoning had in the past taken place regularly and consistently throughout the President痴 term and was not reserved until its end. Even more unusual, some pardon applicants and their lawyers were reportedly given to understand, by Justice Department officials and others, that the White House might be receptive to applications filed there directly, given the short time period remaining before the end of the administration. It was said that President Clinton did not want to leave office having pardoned less generously than any President in history, and only three weeks before leaving office he himself remarked publicly on his frustration with the existing system of Justice Department review.

While one might expect some slippage in the ordinary pardon process at the end of an administration, it was clear to anyone familiar with that process that something unprecedented was about to take place."

SOURCE: Statement of Margaret Colgate Love [Pardon Attorney, 1990-97], Hearing on Presidential Pardons, Senate Judiciary Committee, February 14, 2001

Clinton Clemency Actions


Notable Clemencies from Presidents Washington to George H.W. Bush

NOTE: Although general statistics on Presidential clemency are available, there are - as yet - no comprehensive publicly-accessible historical records of Presidential grants of clemency, with full details of names, offences, when clemency was granted, etc.. See Prof. P.S. Ruckman, Jr., Keys to Clemency Reform: Knowledge, Transparency (JURIST; March 7, 2001).

  • Whiskey Rebellion rebels (Washington, 1795; amnesty)
  • Confederate rebels (Johnson, 1868; amnesty)
  • Samuel Mudd (Johnson, 1869)
  • Eugene Debs (Harding, 1921)
  • Marcus Garvey (Coolidge, 1927; clemency for mail fraud conviction in 1923)
  • Oscar Collazo (Truman, 1952; commuted death sentence to life imprisonment for attempting to assassinate President Truman in 1950)
  • Jimmy Hoffa (Nixon, 1971; commutation)
  • Richard Nixon (Ford, 1974)
  • Tokyo Rose (Ford, 1977)
  • Clyde Wilson (Ford, 1977)
  • Vietnam draft resisters (Carter, 1977; amnesty)
  • G. Gordon Liddy (Carter, 1977; commuted sentence for Watergate break-in in 1972)
  • Irving Flores Rodriguez, Lolita Lebron, and Rafael Cancel-Miranda (Carter, 1979; clemency for machine-gunning the U.S. House of Representatives and wounding five Congressmen in 1954)
  • Oscar Collazo (Carter, 1979; clemency for attempting to assassinate President Truman in 1950)
  • Patricia Hearst (Carter, 1979; commuted sentence for armed robbery)
  • Peter Yarrow (Carter, 1981; clemency for a sexual offence in 1969)
  • W. Mark Felt and Edward Miller (Reagan, 1981; clemency for authorizing FBI agents to break into Vietnam protestors' offices without warrants)
  • Gilbert Dozier (Reagan, 1984; commuted sentence for extortion and racketeering)
  • Junior Johnson (Reagan, 1985; pardoned for liquor offences committed in the 1950s)
  • Albert Alkek (Reagan, 1987; clemency for withholding information from federal officials regarding an oil price-fixing scheme)
  • George Steinbrenner (Reagan, 1989)
  • Armand Hammer (Bush, 1989; pardoned for making illegal contributions to President Nixon's re-election campaign in 1972)
  • Caspar Weinberger (Bush, 1992)
  • Edwin L. Cox, Jr. (Bush, 1993; pardoned for bank fraud)
  • Aslam P. Adam (Bush, 1993; clemency for heroin trafficking)
  • Joseph Occhipinti (Bush, 1993; commuted sentence for violating the civil rights of accused criminals)

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