Biden Commutes Sentences of 75 Convicts and Pardons 3, Including Former Secret Service Agent
As part of a series of actions devoted to increasing the reintegration of criminals into society, President Joe Biden announced Tuesday that 75 people sentenced for nonviolent drug crimes would have their sentences commuted.
The White House also said Biden was issuing pardons to three people, including one former Secret Service agent.
The action came against a backdrop of what The New York Times called “growing consternation among progressive groups.”
The report said those groups do not feel Biden has “focused enough on issues resonating in communities of color.”
The Times said the president — with his “approval rating declining and a domestic agenda stalled amid a bare majority in Congress” — is embarking upon a strategy to flex his executive power.
Biden said the people he pardoned “demonstrated their commitment to rehabilitation and are striving every day to give back and contribute to their communities.” He added that “America is a nation of second chances.”
According to a White House statement, Abraham Bolden, 86, the first black Secret Service agent to serve on a presidential detail, is among those pardoned.
Bolden was charged in 1964 concerning an attempt to sell a copy of his Secret Service file. He has said he was targeted because he was trying to expose unprofessional behavior in the Secret Service.
Bolden’s memoir, “The Echo from Dealey Plaza,” said he made it to the White House because of a chance encounter with President John F. Kennedy while Kennedy was in Chicago’s McCormick Place.
“While some agents got the coveted spots inside the McCormick Place banquet room near the president, my assignment was to guard a basement restroom that had been set aside for Kennedy’s exclusive use,” he wrote, noting that after Kennedy left the restroom, he asked Bolden if there had ever been a black Secret Service agent at the White house. Not long after that, Bolden was transferred there, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
Biden also issued pardons to Betty Jo Bogans, 51, who in 1998 was convicted of possession with intent to distribute crack cocaine in Texas, and Dexter Eugene Jackson, 52, who was convicted in 2002 in Georgia for allowing his business to be used to facilitate the distribution of marijuana.
Biden’s pardons and commutations compares at same point in presidency:
Biden 3 pardons/75 commutations
Trump 3 / 1
Obama 0 / 0
GWBush 0 / 0
— Mark Knoller (@markknoller) April 26, 2022
The pardons and commutations were part of a package of actions that included a $145 million partnership between the Department of Labor and Department of Justice to create job training programs in federal prisons, according to a White House statement.
The Department of Education will also “help incarcerated individuals get out of loan default to access Pell Grants,” according to the statement.
Under the program, “incarcerated persons who have defaulted will get a ‘fresh start.’ Like other defaulted borrowers, incarcerated borrowers with defaulted loans will reenter repayment in good standing when the student loan payment pause ends,” the White House said.
The department will also “allow incarcerated persons to consolidate their loans to get out of default.”
Further, the White House said it will increase the “Second Chance Pell Initiative” that “provides Pell Grants to incarcerated individuals to participate in postsecondary education programs.”
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