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Biden Issues First Pardons During His Administration

'I am pardoning three people who have demonstrated their commitment to rehabilitation and are striving every day to give back,' said Biden

On Tuesday, President Biden will issue the first pardons and commute the sentences of multiple convicted criminals, the first of his administration’s time in the White House. 

In a statement, Biden expressed his intended actions:

“Today, I am pardoning three people who have demonstrated their commitment to rehabilitation and are striving every day to give back and contribute to their communities. I am also commuting the sentences of 75 people who are serving long sentences for non-violent drug offenses, many of whom have been serving on home confinement during the COVID-pandemic—and many of whom would have received a lower sentence if they were charged with the same offense today, thanks to the bipartisan First Step Act.”

Biden added: “My Administration will continue to review clemency petitions and deliver reforms that advance equity and justice, provide second chances, and enhance the wellbeing and safety of all Americans.”

The White House released a complete list of recipients of the President’s pardons, clemency, and commutations. 

One of the primary recipients is Abraham Bolden, a Chicago native who became the first African American Secret Service agent to serve on a presidential detail under the Kennedy administration.

In 1964, Bolden was arrested on charges related to attempting to sell a copy of a Secret Service file for $50,000, an allegation he has consistently denied. He was convicted after two trials, even though key witnesses later admitted to lying at prosecutors’ request.

Another recipient of Tuesday’s pardons is Betty Jo Bogans. She is a single mother from Houston who was convicted in 1998 of possession to distribute crack cocaine after attempting to transport drugs for her boyfriend and his accomplice, neither of whom were detained or arrested.

Dexter Jackson is another recipient of Tuesday’s actions. He was convicted in 2002 for using his business to facilitate the distribution of marijuana in Georgia. Jackson was not personally involved in trafficking marijuana but allowed distributors to use his pool hall to facilitate the transactions. He accepted full responsibility for his actions when charged and pleaded guilty. Since his release, he has been a successful business owner and helped provide affordable housing to his community. 

It is customary for a sitting U.S. President to review and grant clemency and pardons for some instances while in the White House. Former President Donald Trump issued 143 pardons in his four years in office and 94 commutations. Former President Barack Obama issued 212 pardons and commuted 1,715 sentences over two terms.

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