Debra J. Saunders

Kudos to Obama for working for needed balance. But he can do more. Former U.S. Pardon Attorneys Margaret Colgate Love and John Stanish recommended in the National Law Journal that Obama apply "a few judicious grants of clemency to crack defendants who have served many years in prison and have been recommended for release by the prosecutor or the sentencing judge." Or he could choose to commute the sentences of first-time nonviolent offenders serving draconian time.

Obama could start with Clarence Aaron, who, in 1992 at the age of 23, was arrested for hooking up two drug dealers. He had no criminal record. He had no record of violence. He made $1,500. But because the professional dealers, men with long criminal histories, knew enough to "snitch" on Aaron, they were sentenced to less time in prison than Aaron. All but one of those six dealers were released from prison years ago, while Aaron is serving life without parole for a first-time nonviolent drug offense. Only Obama can free him.

On his blog, political science professor P.S. Ruckman Jr. wrote last month that Obama "is already among the nation's slowest presidents" when it comes to granting a pardon. "… In a matter of weeks, his administration will be a mere generic extension of the Clinton/Bush era of clemency controversy and neglect."

Now that's not change -- where change is most needed.

Debra J. Saunders

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