America’s legal system has long been accused of racial bias, and with countless reports of police brutality, and racial profiling, the argument gets stronger by the day. Following reports that White federal prisoners receive more presidential pardons than their Black counterparts, the U.S. Justice Department is seeking further understanding of the claims.

The department requested additional proposals and data to “examine how petitions for pardon are adjudicated by the Justice Department’s Office of the Pardon Attorney.” Based on their findings, from pardon applications between October 2001 and April 30, 2012, it will be determined whether or not “all other things being equal African-Americans and other minorities are less likely to progress in the pardon adjudication process than applicants of other races.”

In May, House Judiciary Committee Member, Rep. John Conyers Jr. called on President Obama to look deeper into the case of Clarence Aaron. According to the Washington Post, Pardon Attorney Ronald L. Rodgers, withheld important information from Aaron’s application, including not telling then President George W. Bush that the inmate was victorious in garnering support of both the sentencing judge and the U.S. attorney’s office which prosecuted him.

Back in 1993, Aaron—who was 24 at the time— was convicted for his role in an Alabama drug conspiracy. Despite being his first criminal offense, he was sentenced to three life terms without the possibility of parole.

Obama vowed to “immediately” review federal mandatory minimum sentences to cut down on the “ineffective warehousing of nonviolent drug offenders.”


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