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Obama Stingy on Pardons

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    by Dr. Boyce Watkins

    Clarence Aaron got three life sentences for a drug deal he wasn’t present at and for which he was not paid. The truth is, “there are thousands of men, mostly black and brown, who received several life sentences for very simple crimes, while their foreign ‘connects’ who imported billions of dollars worth of drugs were given very light sentences.” Aaron’s only hope is a presidential pardon. However, President Obama “is on track to be the least forgiving president in US history.”


    Obama Stingy on Pardons

    by Dr. Boyce Watkins

    This article previously appeared in

    All eyes are pointing toward President Obama and whether or not he will deliver any of the pardons he promised.”

    Clarence Aaron went to prison in 1993, at the age of 23. He was involved in a drug deal, but was neither the buyer nor the seller. He didn’t touch the drugs or collect any money. All he did was introduce the two men involved in the transaction and it has cost him his life.

    Aaron didn’t plead guilty when he was arrested, largely because he didn’t believe he did anything wrong. Because of this, he received three life sentences. Neither Presidents Bush nor Clinton chose to commute the incredibly long sentence given to a young man who was in college and had no criminal record.

    An investigation by the website ProPublica finds that the Bush White House was never given all the facts on Aaron’s case. This leaves it up to President Obama to decide if Aaron should be allowed to go free.

    Mandatory minimum sentences were imposed under the regime of the late Ronald Reagan and his War on Drugs. Seth Ferranti, a long time prisoner who writes for, says that President Obama “was critical of the mandatory minimum drug penalties, and talked about second chances” while campaigning for office, “Yet he is on track to be the least forgiving President in US history.”

    He has pardoned just 23 people, including one commuted sentence,” says Ferranti, who was also convicted for drugs. “His current pace puts him firmly among the most conservative American Presidents to use these powers. So much for second chances.”

    Aaron’s case has now gotten more attention after various journalists have profiled him in national media outlets. But there are other inmates, such as Rodney Stanberry in Alabama and Mario Lloyd in Illinois, whose cases still don’t get the attention they deserve. In fact, there are thousands of men, mostly black and brown, who received several life sentences for very simple crimes, while their foreign “connects” who imported billions of dollars worth drugs were given very light sentences.

    The Bush White House was never given all the facts on Aaron’s case.”

    Kenneth Lee, an attorney who worked under President Bush, said that if he’d had the information on Aaron’s case at that time, he would have allowed him to go free. He says that Ronald Rogers, the current pardon attorney, didn’t provide those in the White House with all the facts they needed to be fully informed about the case.

    As The Post reports:

    Instead, Rodgers offered no new recommendation to the White House and did not revise the old one. He did not pass on years of favorable prisoner reports describing Aaron’s successful rehabilitation. He also made no mention of an affidavit Aaron filed with the pardons office in 2007 in which he expressed further remorse and asked ‘for a second chance to be a productive citizen.’”

    All eyes are pointing toward President Obama and whether or not he will deliver any of the pardons he promised. He’s given few second chances thus far, and people wonder if he will do so if given a second term in the White House. I personally wonder if this president is aware of the long list of campaign promises he’s broken and if he ever plans to make things right. We all agree that the War on Drugs is wrong, so it makes no sense that there are men and women in prison who should not be there. If someone is innocent, they should not be in prison, there is no disputing that fact.

    Dr. Boyce Watkins is a Professor at Syracuse University. To have Dr. Boyce commentary delivered to your email, please click here.

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    Lets See If Law Prof Obama Deals w This Like He Did Troy Davis

    From The Real News [a side article]- 'A Holocaust of FBI Law Enforcement Comes to Light' [or FBI BAD {Hair-day} Analysis Helped Falsely Convict Thousands] @ ] } 'Back in April, this reporter did a story about the scandal that arose in the mid-1990s at the FBI criminal laboratory when it was revealed that results of forensic tests on as many as 10,000 cases had been falsified or otherwise presented to juries in ways that were scientifically unfounded and virtually guaranteed to produce guilty verdicts.' {

    I recall during the OJ Trial the prosecution tried to make a big deal that African American hair was found on a skull cap allegedly worn by the killer- implying that it had to be OJ's Hair. And during the 1980s trial of the alleged Altanta child killer- Wayne Williams was literally convicted by a thread-fiber of evidence [the prosecution made a big deal out of carpet fibers that allegedly proved his guilt]. But I've heard for some time that hair evidence by itself is insufficient to prove guilt unless there is DNA from hair folicles attached to it.

    So now we see the FBI & other law enforcement hyped-up this shakey hair evidence that may have falsely convicted 10,000 people [bet most of them were/are Black & Brown]. So will Mr Consitutional Law Prof Obama do the right thing, since the FBI is under his & AG Holder's DoJ jurisdiction, & pardon / exonerate these folks that the FBI rail-roaded to prison on bogus hair evidence??! Or will he go MIA / AWOL the same  way he did during Troy Davis' legalized lynching???

    good point.

    very good point.  Shackles after Lynne Stewart's surgery recently was one more horror of the system.

       "Where We Live" (WBAI 99.5FM radio show since 1988) featured a show on women in prison on July 5, 2012.  Hosted by regulars Dequi Kiono-Sadiki and Pam Hanna (Sally O'Brien, long time host was away), 8-9pm, Thurs,, 7/5/2012, archived for 90 days,free  The guests were former political prisoners who spoke of the women in prison and the organizing inside the prisons that the women on the inside are doing.  One discussion was about pregnant women shackled during and after labor/giving birth and an online petition.  (NYS has recently banned shackling women prisoners giving birth).  A caller, short call, near the end of the show will surprise you. Note: I support