Obama pardons nine small-time criminals


The nine people Obama has pardoned are all small-time criminals. Image: Flickr / crobj / CC-BY

After two years in office, president Obama has pardoned nine individuals of their crimes. These nine individuals included six individuals who served no jail time. Some are questioning why Obama chose to give pardons to people whose cases made practically no political statement.

Obama pardons nine citizens

After 682 days in office, President Obama chose to issue nine pardons. These nine pardons included a variety of minor-level offenses. These pardons included:

  • James Dixon: 1960 liquor violations (two years probation)
  • Ronald Lee Foster: 1963 coin mutilation (one year probation, fine)
  • James Bernard Banks: 1972 illegal possession of government property (two years probation)
  • Timothy James Gallagher: 1982 cocaine (three years probation)
  • Floretta Leavy: 1984 cocaine/marijuana (one year and one day served)
  • Roxanne Kay Hettinger: 1986 cocaine (30 days, three years probation)
  • Edgar Leopold Kranz, Jr: 1994 military offense (two years)
  • Laurens Dorsey: 1998 false statements (five years probation, restitution)
  • Scoey Lathaniel Morris: 1999 counterfeiting (three years probation, fine)

The difference between a pardon and clemency

These nine Obama pardons that were handed down today grant full forgiveness for a crime and the associated punishment. The term “clemency” is also sometimes used to describe actions such as the Obama pardons. Clemency means more than just a pardon, however; it means lessening or canceling an upcoming punishment. The president does also have the power to hand down a reprieve, which postpones punishment. Obama could also give a commutation of a sentence, which does not forgive a crime but does reduce the severity of the associated punishment, so a criminal may not need to take out a payday loan no faxing to pay the fine.

The political statement of Obama’s pardons

Among political circles, a lot of surprise has been expressed at the fact that Obama chose to pardon relatively minor criminals. Obama stated, though spokespeople, that he chose to pardon these individuals because he was “impressed” at how hard they had worked to pay back their debt to society. Many are surprised, however, that Obama has chosen to not make a hearty political statement using his ability to pardon criminals.