To summarize: Though presidents like Taft and Wilson granted clemency to 30% or more of those who applied, federal pardons waned in frequency after Truman, though they were still often granted. After Carter, though, the rate at which pardons were granted plummeted, and in the 21st century so far, the chances of clemency have become virtually nil.
Bottom line: 21st century American presidents (and most governors), abetted by sensationalist media, have all but killed clemency. It's past time for its renewal.
See prior, related Grits posts:
- Obama the Merciless: Is DOJ to blame?
- Obama may have stingiest pardon record of any American president
- Obama the Merciless
- Eat the turkey, pardon O. Henry! President quotes Texan writer but won't pardon him
- Institutional prosecutorial bias limits federal pardon recommendations from DOJ
- Perry should expand clemency, trump Obama in Christmastime ritual