Category: George W. Bush

Investigation finds racial disparity in presidential pardons

By Melanie Wilmoth

Not surprisingly, a recent investigation by Dafna Linzer and Jennifer LaFleur of ProPublica revealed that whites are almost four times more likely than are minorities to succeed in receiving a presidential pardon. According to Linzer and LaFleur, these statistics hold true even when accounting for other factors such as the type of crime, the length of sentence, and the gender and age of the applicant.

Although ProPublica’s findings initially did little to indicate why this racial disparity exists, deeper investigation sheds light on the subjectivity that exists within the pardons process.

Linzer and LaFleur report that, during his administration, George W. Bush relied heavily on recommendations from lawyers in the Office of the Pardon Attorney when deciding whether or not to grant a pardon. This paved the way for the pardons office to use subjective standards when analyzing pardon cases and making recommendations to the President. ProPublica found that these standards included subjective factors such as “judgments about the ‘attitude’ and the marital and financial stability of applicants.”

“Bush followed the recommendations of the pardons office in nearly every case,” ProPublica reports, “The results, spread among hundreds of cases over eight years, heavily favored whites.” (more…)