Over at First Things, I have a column urging mercy for federal drug felon, Clarence Aaron. He was convicted–justly–for his middleman participation in a 1992 cocaine drug deal. Because of mandatory sentencing, he was sentenced to life without parole. Now 43, Aaron has served more than 20 years, and by all accounts is fully rehabilitated.
I urge not a pardon, but that his sentence be commuted. I am far from alone. Support for a commutation has come from the political left, right, and libertarian.
Aaron was almost granted a commutation by President Bush in 2008. But the DOJ Pardon Attorney, asked to take a second look at Aaron’s application, apparently withheld full information–such as support for commutation by the sentencing judge and a U.S. Attorney–and the commutation didn’t happen.
We need more mercy in this country, just for mercy’s sake. A splendid place to start would be for President Obama to let Clarence Aaron go.