FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date: June 26, 2012
Contact: Monica Pratt Raffanel, firstname.lastname@example.org
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, a group of 15 leading constitutional and sentencing law academics and law professors issued a letter asking Senate Judiciary Committee leaders to hold a hearing to investigate allegations of misconduct by the Office of the Pardon Attorney (OPA). In particular, the letter asks the committee to examine current pardon attorney Ronald Rodgers’ alleged “withholding of critical information from the President” and of “troubling racial disparities in the pattern of grants and denials of clemency.”
The letter was prompted by recent articles by ProPublica investigative journalist Dafna Linzer in The Washington Post, which revealed serious problems in the way the pardon attorney’s office handles clemency requests. Late last year, a story documented what appears to be a disturbing racial disparity in pardon grants. Then, a May 13 article told the story of Clarence Aaron, who is serving a life sentence and was denied a commutation by President George W. Bush after Rodgers allegedly misrepresented facts about his case to White House counsel.
The law professors’ letter reads, in part:
Virtually the only governmental check on the pardon power of the president is the ability of the Congress to investigate its use. While Congress properly plays no role in the actual consideration of clemency petitions, there is a duty of oversight relating to the operation of this office. Pursuant to that important duty, we urge you to convene a hearing at your earliest convenience, and will offer whatever help we can.
“These legal experts see exactly what we see: a pardon attorney’s office that is failing to provide the president with the unbiased information he needs to fulfill his constitutional clemency power fully and fairly. Congress - and all taxpayers - should demand answers from OPA before continuing to subsidize this incompetent, if not corrupt, office,” FAMM President Julie Stewart said.
The law professors’ letter is the fourth to request an investigation of the claims of pardon attorney wrongdoing. Similar letters have arisen from FAMM and over three dozen criminal justice, sentencing reform, and faith-based groups; U.S. Representatives John Conyers (D-MI) and Robert “Bobby” Scott (D-VA); and, on June 11, a group of 16 formerly incarcerated people who received sentence commutations from Presidents William J. Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama.
For a full copy of the academics’ letter, along with the names and universities of the signatories, click here. For more information on FAMM’s demand for accountability at the OPA, visit FAMM's website.
FAMM is a national nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that supports fair and proportionate sentencing laws that allow judicial discretion while maintaining public safety.