Dafna Linzer has been reporting on the presidential pardon system since late last year. What she found is that white criminals are nearly four times as likely to receive a pardon than people of color. Commutations are also dwindling. Presidents Reagan and Clinton approved roughly 1 in 100 applicants, while President George W. Bush approved 1 in 1,000. Obama has approved just 1 in 5,000.
Linzer joined the podcast to talk about the case of Clarence Aaron — an African-American man whose quest for a commutation was denied, even though he had support from the judge and prosecutor in his case. After reviewing internal documents and interviewing senior officials, Linzer showed that the pardon attorney didn't share all the evidence in Aaron's case with the White House. Linzer describes Aaron's story: the sentence he received, his response to finding out how close he came to being released and the details on another case involving a white man with a long criminal history.
Listen to the podcast and see all of the stories in our Presidential Pardons: Shades of Mercy series.