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NACDL News: President Obama Surprises With Rare Exercise of Clemency Power
By Ivan J. Dominguez
NACDL News columns.
The White House announced on Dec. 19, 2013, that President Barack Obama granted clemency to 21 individuals — eight commutations and 13 pardons. For some time, President Obama has come under blistering criticism for his neglect of executive clemency power. Indeed, many have pointed out that previous presidents exercised this power more frequently and at a higher rate than has President Obama. Unfortunately, never before has the need to invoke this power to do justice been greater. More people languish behind bars in America than in any other nation on earth, both in absolute numbers and as a percentage of the population, many of them for nonviolent offenses and under the most severe of mandatory minimum schemes.
NACDL President Jerry J. Cox said: “As we learn more and more about the pervasive racial and ethnic disparities that plague America’s criminal justice system, and as we witness every day how those accused of crime are pressured to plead guilty given both the high cost
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