Apr 26, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Biden's first pardons

Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

President Biden announced on Tuesday that he is pardoning three individuals and issuing 75 commutations, making the first use of his clemency powers in his administration.

Why it matters: The president campaigned on a promise to use his clemency power specifically for non-violent and drug crimes.

  • The 75 people whose sentences are being commuted served time for non-violent drug offenses. Many of these would have received less severe sentences if they had been charged after the First Step Act passed in 2018.

Zoom in: Biden is also pardoning:

  • Abraham W. Bolden, Sr., a former U.S. Secret Service agent who was the first African American to serve on a presidential detail. He faced several years in prison on charges relating to attempting to sell a copy of a Secret Service file, although he maintains his innocence.
  • Betty Jo Bogans, who was convicted of possession with intent to distribute cocaine while transporting drugs to her boyfriend and her accomplice, neither of whom were arrested or detained. She had no prior record and served seven years for the charge.
  • Dexter Jackson, who was convicted in 2002 for using his business to facilitate the distribution of marijuana.

Zoom out: The clemency actions are part of a broader strategy that is being unveiled by the administration for "Second Chance Month."

  • The president is also announcing a new collaboration between the Justice Department and Department of Labor to provide job training for those who are reentering society after incarceration.
  • They are also expanding access to capital for people with convictions who want to start a business, and working on actions to improve reentry services for veterans.
  • The president announced expanded development programs, greater opportunities to serve in the federal government, and more support for health care, housing and educational opportunities.

What they're saying: "While today’s announcement marks important progress, my Administration will continue to review clemency petitions and deliver reforms that advance equity and justice, provide second chances, and enhance the wellbeing and safety of all Americans," Biden said in a statement.

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