FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date: July 18, 2012
Contact: Monica Pratt Raffanel, firstname.lastname@example.org
WASHINGTON, D.C. – FAMM President Julie Stewart today said she was “very encouraged” after a news story revealed that the Obama administration is reviewing the broken process for obtaining federal clemency. According to the story by ProPublica investigative reporter Dafna Linzer, “Officials said there has been growing interest inside the White House for reforming the pardon process, specifically how recommendations are made to the president.”
Over the past few months, FAMM has helped to organize a growing, bipartisan campaign in favor of a congressional investigation into the Office of the Pardon Attorney (OPA) after two stories, also written by Ms. Linzer, revealed racial bias and possible misconduct in the evaluation of pardons and commutations. On May 24, 2012, FAMM hosted a panel discussion at the National Press Club, which featured the mother of Clarence Aaron, a first-time drug offender who received a life sentence. Panelists also included Ms. Linzer and a former federal prisoner whose pleas for a commutation were repeatedly denied. Mr. Aaron’s petition for a commutation, which was supported by the U.S. Attorney’s office that prosecuted him and the federal judge who sentenced him, was rejected in 2008 after current pardon attorney Ronald Rodgers mischaracterized their support in a communication to the Bush White House.
According to Ms. Linzer’s story, the Obama White House has asked for a fresh review of the Aaron case. Ms. Stewart said, “Clarence Aaron should never have been sentenced to die in prison, and he should have been granted a commutation years ago. He has been an exemplary inmate while his family has suffered in his absence. I am confident that an unbiased review of his petition will lead to his release.”
“We and others have asked repeatedly for an investigation of the OPA because it is a complete disaster,” Stewart said. “This taxpayer-funded office has failed in its sole responsibility to help the president analyze requests for federal clemency. I am pleased that the administration is not waiting. By directing his administration to take a close look at the Office, the president has shown that he understands the magnitude of the problem. We are very encouraged by today’s news and see this a positive first step.”
The article also quoted unnamed sources in the Administration who expect the number of pardons and commutations to rise significantly before the end of the year. “Clarence Aaron isn’t the only federal prisoner who has been denied justice,” Ms. Stewart said. “We hope President Obama will be bold and generous in granting clemency as his first term closes.”
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.