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During a recent radio show appearance, former New York Governor David Patterson discussed President Donald Trump’s commutation of Shalom Rubashkin’s 27 year prison sentence. To the amazement of the hosts, Patterson exclaimed “I actually worked on this case,” explaining he had recommended former President Barack Obama commute the sentence but was denied.
Patterson told WOR’s Len & Todd show he had not known President Trump had commuted the sentence, but was “very happy to hear this,” as he believes Rubashkin’s sentence was 3 times what prosecutors had requested, and 9 times what ‘it was supposed to be.’
He also explained there was some alleged illegality in the sentencing, as Federal Judge Linda Reade was accused of discussing the case with judges at the Appeals Court, before whom the sentence was to be appealed.
Patterson, a Democrat, later reiterated Obama had point blank said “NO” to his recommendation, despite what he believes was a ‘strange’ sentence, “way, way, way beyond what it should have been.”
Patterson served as governor of New York between 2008 and 2010, assuming the position after Governor Elliot Spitzer resigned in disgrace.
It is interesting to note, Barack Obama ended his presidency having granted clemency to more people convicted of federal crimes than any chief executive in 64 years. But he also received far more requests for clemency than any U.S. president on record, largely as a result of an initiative set up by his administration to shorten prison terms for nonviolent federal inmates convicted of drug crimes.
Overall, Obama granted clemency to 1,927 individuals, a figure that includes 1,715 commutations and 212 pardons. That’s the highest total for any president since Harry S. Truman, who granted clemency 2,044 times – including 1,913 pardons, 118 commutations and 13 remissions – during his nearly eight years in office, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of Department of Justice statistics.
Clemency refers to multiple forms of presidential mercy. The two most common are commutations, which completely or partially reduce sentences for those in prison or on community supervision, and pardons, which forgive past crimes and restore civil rights. Two less-common forms are remissions, which reduce financial penalties associated with convictions, and respites, which are temporary reprieves that are usually granted to inmates for medical reasons.
Of course, Obama received such a large number of clemency requests in part because his administration asked for them. Under a program launched in 2014 known as the Clemency Initiative, the Justice Department encouraged “qualified federal inmates” – as defined by DOJ criteria – to apply to have their prison sentences commuted. The initiative led to a surge in requests and also helps explain why Obama’s use of clemency tilted so heavily toward sentence commutations, rather than pardons.
In his record use of commutations, Obama reduced sentences for federal inmates who were convicted in all 50 states, according to analysis. Among those who received reduced penalties were 568 individuals serving life sentences and two who had been sentenced to death.
It may never be known why Obama chose to grant freedom to hundreds of drug dealers because of “excessive sentences,” yet refused to allow Sholom Rubashkin out of prison for the very same reason – accompanied by extensive bi-partisan support.
(Nat Golden – YWN)