Former US Pardon Attorney Talks with Prison Consultant
For more than a dozen years, Samuel T. Morison served as a staff attorney in the Office of the United States Pardon Attorney. In this two-part series on the Earning Freedom podcast, Sam offered valuable insight. Anyone who has endured a criminal prosecution in the federal system and aspires to relief through executive clemency will want to listen. This first episode provides some historical context on how presidents have used their pardon power. In the second episode, Sam discusses his defense practice at PardonAttorney.com. He represents people who want to persuade the President to grant them some form of pardon.
As a prison consultant, I frequently hear from clients who want to learn more about what steps they can take to position themselves for the best possible outcome. Some think about early release, and certainly the pardon is an option. Those who want to position themselves for a pardon will learn a great deal by listening to the information that Sam provided.
The United States Constitution provides the president with absolute authority to forgive sentences, or even block prosecutions. Several different types of pardons exist. The president may grant a full or conditional pardon, effectively forgiving the offense as if it never happened. Or the president can issue a commutation, effectively lessening the sentence imposed by the trial judge.
Historically, when the federal prison system was much smaller, presidents took a much more active role in the pardon process. A right to appeal, probation, or parole did not exist. Presidents would routinely review sentences and consider whether continued incarceration was warranted. If it wasn’t, they could offer relief through the pardon power.
At the start of the 20th century, legislation brought new relief mechanisms. They included a right to a direct appeal, probation, and parole. As a consequence of those reforms, presidents did not feel compelled to grant as many pardons. Still, up until the time of President Carter, pardons were not so controversial. President Reagan’s administration changed that. We became much more punitive, and the pardon was granted far less frequently.
This podcast series will describe the process an individual should follow if he or she aspires to relief through some form of pardon.
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