Skip to comments.Standards for Considering Pardon Petitions
Posted on 01/19/2009 1:14:13 PM PST by DBCJR
Section 1-2.112 Standards for Considering Pardon Petitions
In general, a pardon is granted on the basis of the petitioner's demonstrated good conduct for a substantial period of time after conviction and service of sentence. The Department's regulations require a petitioner to wait a period of at least five years after conviction or release from confinement (whichever is later) before filing a pardon application (28 C.F.R. § 1.2). In determining whether a particular petitioner should be recommended for a pardon, the following are the principal factors taken into account.
1. Post-conviction conduct, character, and reputation.
An individual's demonstrated ability to lead a responsible and productive life for a significant period after conviction or release from confinement is strong evidence of rehabilitation and worthiness for pardon. The background investigation customarily conducted by the FBI in pardon cases focuses on the petitioner's financial and employment stability, responsibility toward family, reputation in the community, participation in community service, charitable or other meritorious activities and, if applicable, military record. In assessing post-conviction accomplishments, each petitioner's life circumstances are considered in their totality: it may not be appropriate or realistic to expect "extraordinary" post-conviction achievements from individuals who are less fortunately situated in terms of cultural, educational, or economic background.
2. Seriousness and relative recentness of the offense.
When an offense is very serious (e.g., a violent crime, major drug trafficking, breach of public trust, or white collar fraud involving substantial sums of money), a suitable length of time should have elapsed in order to avoid denigrating the seriousness of the offense or undermining the deterrent effect of the conviction. In the case of a prominent individual or notorious crime, the likely effect of a pardon on law enforcement interests or upon the general public should be taken into account. Victim impact may also be a relevant consideration. When an offense is very old and relatively minor, the equities may weigh more heavily in favor of forgiveness, provided the petitioner is otherwise a suitable candidate for pardon.
3. Acceptance of responsibility, remorse, and atonement.
The extent to which a petitioner has accepted responsibility for his or her criminal conduct and made restitution to its victims are important considerations. A petitioner should be genuinely desirous of forgiveness rather than vindication. While the absence of expressions of remorse should not preclude favorable consideration, a petitioner's attempt to minimize or rationalize culpability does not advance the case for pardon. In this regard, statements made in mitigation (e.g., "everybody was doing it," or "I didn't realize it was illegal") should be judged in context. Persons seeking a pardon on grounds of innocence or miscarriage of justice bear a formidable burden of persuasion.
4. Need for relief.
The purpose for which pardon is sought may influence disposition of the petition. A felony conviction may result in a wide variety of legal disabilities under state or federal law, some of which can provide persuasive grounds for recommending a pardon. For example, a specific employment-related need for pardon, such as removal of a bar to licensure or bonding, may make an otherwise marginal case sufficiently compelling to warrant a grant in aid of the individual's continuing rehabilitation. On the other hand, the absence of a specific need should not be held against an otherwise deserving applicant, who may understandably be motivated solely by a strong personal desire for a sign of forgiveness.
What an excellent and timely post, DBCJR. Maybe those that are ranting about Ramos and Compean not being granted a pardon, but rather a commutation, will read this and learn.
Thanks for the post.
I hope that people will read this and start to understand why President Bush did what he did.