Apr 26, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Biden pardons 3, commutes sentences for 75

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks about the high cost of prescription drugs and child care at Green River College on April 22, 2022 in Auburn, Washington.

U.S. President Joe Biden at Green River College on April 22, 2022 in Auburn, Washington. Photo by Karen Ducey/Getty Images

President Joe Biden has pardoned three people the administration says "have demonstrated their commitment to rehabilitation," and has commuted the sentences of 75 others serving long sentences for non-violent drug offenses.

Driving the news: Biden announced Tuesday he was granting clemency to 78 individuals as part of his broad rollout to help formerly incarcerated people during Second Chance Month.

Abraham W. Bolden, Sr., an 86-year-old former U.S. Secret Service agent who was the first African American to serve on a presidential detail, was among those pardoned.

  • Bolden was charged with offenses relating to attempting to sell a copy of a Secret Service file. Key witnesses against him later admitted to lying at the prosecutor’s request.
  • Bolden has received numerous honors and awards for speaking out against the racism he faced in the Secret Service in the 1960s.

Betty Jo Bogans, 51, of Houston, received a pardon for her 1998 conviction of possession with intent to distribute crack cocaine.

  • Bogan, a single mother with no record, received a seven-year sentence because of harsh penalties at the time. The administration said she has since had steady employment and has undergone treatment for cancer.

Dexter Eugene Jackson, 52, of Athens, Ga., was pardoned for his 2002 conviction for using his business to facilitate the distribution of marijuana.

  • Officials said Jackson was not personally involved in trafficking marijuana but allowed distributors to use his pool hall to facilitate drug transactions.
  • He has also worked to build and renovate homes in a community that lacks quality affordable housing.

Details: Senior Biden officials said the grants of clemency reflect the president's broader commitment to reform the nation's justice system and address racial disparities.

  • Officials also said Biden is also committed to using his clemency power to provide relief to individuals serving lengthy sentences that they could no longer receive today because of changes in federal laws.
  • Almost a third of the sentence commutation recipients would have received lower sentences if charged with the same offense today.

Also: The administration also announced Tuesday a new collaboration between the Department of Justice and the Department of Labor to provide job training for people with convictions.

  • The administration will provide new grants for workforce development programs, new opportunities to serve in the federal government, and access to capital to start a small business.

The intrigue: Biden said the Trump-backed bipartisan First Step Act would have lowed the sentences of many of those getting sentence commutation.

Go deeper