Presidential Pardons

Guest Host:

Susan Page
Presidential Pardons

Past presidential pardons have raised questions about fairness and secrecy. A new analysis of how pardons are decided and how bias and politics influence the process.

The U.S. Constitution gives presidents the power to grant clemency to convicted criminals. This usually takes the form of a pardon or a reduction in the length of a sentence. It's seen as a way to redress injustices that can occur in any legal system. But the process has been criticized for being too subjective and too secretive. An investigative reporting team examined presidential pardons over the past decade. Among their just-released conclusions: white pardon applicants are overwhelmingly favored over minorities. The Justice Department's pardons office denies that race is a factor. Guest host Susan Page will talk with a panel of experts about the allegations and whether changes should be made in the way presidents choose whom to forgive.


Dafna Linzer

senior reporter, ProPublica.

Margaret Colgate Love

lawyer representing applicants for presidential pardons and sentence commutations; U.S. Pardon attorney (1990-1997).

Chris Bartolomucci

attorney in private practice; as former associate counsel to the president, 2001-2003, he assisted the president with pardon applications.

Governor Robert Ehrlich Jr.

former Republican governor of Maryland (2003-2007); partner in the law firm King & Spalding.

Serena Nunn

a legal assistant in a Georgia public defenders’ office; she is seeking a presidential pardon for a 1989 drug conviction.

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