“America is a nation of laws and new opportunities, redemption and rehabilitation,” Biden said in a statement announcing the graces. “Followed officials on both sides of the aisle, religious leaders, civil rights defenders and law enforcement leaders agree that our criminal justice system can and should reflect these core values that enable safer and stronger societies.”
The pardons awarded are:
– Abraham Bolden Sr., 86, the first Black Secret Service agent to serve on a presidential detail. In 1964, Bolden, who served on the details of President John F. Kennedy, was charged with federal bribery for attempting to sell a copy of a Secret Service file. His first trial ended in a hung jury.
Following his sentencing in another trial, key witnesses admitted to having lied at the prosecutor’s request. The ball from Chicago was denied a new trial and served several years in federal prison. Ball has maintained his innocence and wrote a book in which he claimed he was targeted for speaking out against racist and unprofessional behavior in the Secret Service.
– Betty Jo Bogans, 51, was convicted in 1998 of possession with intent to distribute crack cocaine in Texas after attempting to transport drugs to her boyfriend and his accomplice. Bogans, a single mother with no previous record, was sentenced to seven years in prison. In the years since her release from prison, Bogans has had consistent employment, even while undergoing cancer treatment, and has raised a son.
Dexter Jackson, 52, from Athens, Georgia, was convicted in 2002 of using his pool hall to facilitate marijuana trafficking. Jackson pleaded guilty and admitted that he allowed his business to be used by marijuana dealers.
After Jackson was released from prison, he converted his business into a cell phone repair service that employs local high school students through a program that provides young adults with work experience. Jackson has built and renovated homes in his community that are in short supply of affordable housing.
Civil rights and criminal justice reform groups have pushed the White House to transform sentences and work harder to reduce inequalities in the criminal justice system. The bid’s awards of pardon also come as the administration has been subjected to congressional scrutiny over misdemeanors and the treatment of inmates in the besieged federal Bureau of Prisons, which is responsible for inmates serving prison sentences in the home.
Biden, as chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, helped shepherds through the 1994 Crime Bill, which many criminal justice experts say contributed to harsh sentences and mass imprisonment of blacks.
During his run in the White House in 2020, Biden promised to reduce the number of incarcerated people in the United States and called for non-violent drug offenders to be diverted to drug courts and treatment.
He has also pushed for better education for law enforcement and called for changes in the criminal justice system to address inequalities that have led to minorities and the poor making up a disproportionate share of the country’s imprisoned population.
Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump, awarded 143 pardons and pardon to 237 during his four years in office.
Trump sought advice from prison reform advocate Alice Johnson, a black woman whose life sentence for a nonviolent drug crime he changed in 2018. He was also lobbyed by celebrity Kim Kardashian as well as White House advisers, including daughter Ivanka Trump and son-in-law Jared Kushner as he weighed applications for mercy.
The Republican used his pardon authority to help several political friends and allies, including former campaign president Paul Manafort, Republican operative Roger Stone and Charles Kushner, Ivanka Trump’s father-in-law.
Among Trump’s last acts as president were pardoning his former chief strategist Steve Bannon and Al Pirro, the husband of Fox News host and Trump ally Jeanine Pirro.
Prosecutors claimed that Bannon, who had not yet stood trial when he was pardoned, had deceived thousands of donors who believed their money would be used to fulfill Trump’s main campaign promise to build a wall along the southern border. Instead, Bannon allegedly had to redirect more than $ 1 million by paying a campaign employee’s salary and personal expenses to himself. Pirro was convicted in 2000 of tax evasion.
With the list of pardons and transformations released Tuesday, Biden has issued more pardon grants than any of the previous five presidents at this point in their term, according to the White House.
In addition to the grants of pardon, Biden announced several new initiatives designed to help previously incarcerated people find employment – a problem that his administration is driving home as the key to lowering crime rates and preventing recidivism.
The Department of Labor is directing $ 140 million to programs offering job training, pre-apprenticeship programs, digital literacy training and pre-release career counseling, and more to young and incarcerated adults.
The $ 1 trillion infrastructure bill passed by Congress last year includes a trio of grant programs that the administration says promote the employment of former inmates. And the Department of Labor and Justice on Tuesday announced a collaboration plan to provide $ 145 million over the next year for training job skills as well as individualized employment and re-entry plans for inmates serving time in the jail office.
Biden said the new initiatives are crucial to help the more than 600,000 people released from prison each year get back on stable ground.
“Helping those who earned their time return to their families and become contributing members of their communities is one of the most effective ways to reduce recidivism and reduce crime,” Biden said.