Thursday, December 22, 2016


Two charts on Clemency

First, here is the distribution of Obama's clemency grants by state, from the Dallas Morning News. They have not been evenly distributed:

Second, here is the chart (prepared by PS Ruckman, Jr.) that punctures the administration's claim to have granted more clemency than the last 11 presidents combined-- for some reason (which I think I know) they don't include the clemency President Ford granted to draft evaders and army deserters:


Very interesting charts, especially the by state distribution. Florida and Texas having a lot more releases makes sense as they were both big import locations for drugs and therefore distribution. I guess I would have expected the number from California to be equally high and that is surprising.

What about the distribution surprises you?
It tracks use of capital punishment!
But California has the highest number of death row inmates yet it falls at the bottom of this list. Surprisingly there have only been 20 executions this year and fewer prosecutors are asking for the death penalty because fewer jurors have been willing to convict.
Interesting . . . so does it mean something about the judges or prosecutors in Florida, Texas, and Virginia, the three (I think . . ) most active death-penalty states? But the sentences were mandatory, so maybe it isn't related to judges.

And Christine's point makes sense, that Florida and Texas are big import locations; maybe higher drug importation in Texas and California means more crime in general, hence drug crimes but also crimes meriting the death penalty?

Or that Obama-administation officials, many of whom who may be against the death penalty, have a subconscious bias in favor of releasing prisoners from states which administer the DP at higher rates?

There are probably other correlations, too.
Oops, I meant higher drug importation in Texas and Florida, though you would imagine that would apply to California, too. It must have at least some correlation with the law-and-order political atmosphere & attitudes in those top three states.
Sorry to over-post, but this is intriguing. I think I've got it: the lawyers who filed the petitions for the clemency-seekers are likely to be lawyers who work to oppose capital punishment, who represent capital defendants . . . is that it?
Amy, you might be right-- and Christine, California has a big death row, but has not used the death penalty much at all...
Oh, I just saw this. I missed PS Ruckman's great chart nudging out all the data he can get to explain sentencing and clemency.

I'm not too surprised about the 11th Circuit and 5th Circuit receiving the most commutations. I found that they were the two circuits that have the most sentences of life without parole for nonviolent marijuana offenders. This probably translates to nonviolent drug offenders. They pursue forfeiture vigorously.

Ninth Circuit states had huge importations of marijuana in the 80s and 90s, but nonviolent marijuana offenders did not receive life sentences in the 9th Circuit. These are prosecutorial decisions - quite different and interesting.

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?