Thursday, December 23, 2004

80% of Recent Bush Pardons Were Convicted of White Collar Offenses

Other bloggers, like Doug Berman's Sentencing Blog (which includes comments of Margy Love, former pardon attorney for DOJ and now in private practice), Orin Kerr writing on the Volokh Conspiracy Blog, and the Crime and Federalism Blog  have been commenting on whether President Bush is being stingy or not in his use of the pardon power.  There is, however, another aspect regarding these pardons that warrants mention. 

In our  Nov. 19th blog entry we noted how 5 of the 6 pardons given by Bush in November 2004 were white collar offenders.   Here again we are seeing the same pattern.  CCN reports that the latest four pardons involve an "embezzlement by a bank employee," a "misapplication of bank fund by an employee," "possession of counterfeit obligations," and "theft from interstate shipment." 

Although the definition of white collar crime is sometimes a term that is open for discussion, especially when the crime involves something like RICO, which can be a white collar offense in some instances and more a street crime in other contexts, I'm categorizing 3 of these 4 recent pardons as white collar.  Clearly "embezzlement by a bank employee" and "misapplication of bank fund by an employee" fit the white collar category.  "Possession of counterfeit obligations"  also tends to fall in the white collar crime category. The last one, "theft from interstate shipment" could go either way, perhaps depending on the facts.  I will give the benefit of the doubt on this last one to it being in the non-white collar category and claim 8/10 of the November/December pardons as white collar. (admittedly not an accurate statistical study being conducted here - so I would say the margin of error is likely to be 10%).

Some will claim that having 80% of pardons as white collar offenses is a proper percentage, as we are dealing with non-violent crimes here.  Others may, however, note that there seems to be a lack of consistency in the types of pardons being granted by the President (high percentage of white collar offenders) with an aim of increased penalties in sentencing guidelines for white collar offenders.  Just maybe, President Bush is giving a perfect reason for the need to rethink sentencing guidelines with respect to white collar offenses.  But I guess, others out there will claim that I am comparing apples and oranges, as sentences have nothing to do with pardons.  Your choice, I have my opinion.

Addendum - Christoper Geider also comments on the pardons on his blog. (esp)

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/whitecollarcrime_blog/2004/12/bush_pardons_wh.html

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