29 April 2022 :
Joe Biden grants clemency to 78 people – but no federal death row inmates
Biden ran on an election campaign that he wanted to abolish the federal death penalty and incentivise states to stop executions
President Joe Biden has granted clemency to 78 people as part of Second Chance Month – but has failed to commute the sentences or pardon any inmates currently awaiting execution on federal death row.
On Tuesday, the president announced that he was granting pardons to three people and commuting the sentences of 75 others who have all made efforts to rehabilitate themselves, such as through educational and vocational training or drug treatment in prison.
This marks the 1st clemencies issued by Mr Biden in the 15 months since he took office in January 2021.
“America is a nation of laws and 2nd chances, redemption, and rehabilitation. Elected officials on both sides of the aisle, faith leaders, civil rights advocates, and law enforcement leaders agree that our criminal justice system can and should reflect these core values that enable safer and stronger communities,” he said in a statement.
“During Second Chance Month, I am using my authority under the Constitution to uphold those values by pardoning and commuting the sentences of fellow Americans.”
However, the president did not grant clemency to any of the 46 inmates on federal death row – something that he has been facing growing calls to do and which he has the power to do at the stroke of a pen.
Mr. Biden ran on an election campaign that he wanted to abolish the federal death penalty and would incentivise states to also halt executions across the US.
“Because we cannot ensure we get death penalty cases right every time, Biden will work to pass legislation to eliminate the death penalty at the federal level, and incentivize states to follow the federal government’s example,” his campaign website read.
But, to date, he is yet to take action on this and has not granted clemency to any inmate on federal death row.
So far, his administration has merely issued a moratorium on federal executions, putting the death penalty on pause after Donald Trump resumed executions following a 17-year hiatus and executed 13 inmates in his final months in the White House.
Lawmakers and activists last year urged Mr Biden to follow through with his campaign pledge.
Instead of death row inmates, the three people pardoned on Tuesday include former US Secret Service Agent Abraham Bolden who spent 39 months in prison in the 1960s after he was convicted for trying to sell a copy of a Secret Service file.
Bolden, who was the first Black person to serve on a presidential detail, has long maintained his innocence saying that he was targeted in retaliation for exposing unprofessional and racist behavior within the Secret Service.
The 2 people other people pardoned were Betty Jo Hogans and Dexter Eugene Jackson who were both convicted of drug-related charges.
The 75 people whose sentences have been commuted were convicted of non-violent drug offences.