The presidential pardon, with its ability to commute sentences, exists in part to curb excesses in the justice system. When a first-time non-violent drug offender named Clarence Aaron is sentenced to life without parole for an offense he committed in 1992 at age 23, justice demands that someone -- and only Bush has the power to do it -- correct that gross injustice by releasing Aaron, who has been in prison for more than a decade.
As U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy said in a speech in San Francisco, "This young man has not served his full sentence, but he has served long enough. Give him what only you can give him. Give him another chance." Kennedy was referring to sentences less draconian than Aaron's.
David McCall had a folksier story. As the Dallas Morning News reported, McCall had a story about his life, in which he likened himself to a turtle that found itself on top of a post. "The turtle couldn't get on a post on its own. The truth is that somebody had to put me up there. The thing is that I'll never be more than a turtle, and there are others now waiting to be turtles on the post."
Forget the post. Clarence Aaron would settle for living outside of maximum security. Only President Bush can get him there.