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Obama Pardons Humans, Not Turkeys

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By Stephanie Rabiner, Esq. on November 22, 2011 12:02 PM

You read that right. As a precursor to Wednesday's annual presidential turkey pardon, President Obama has pardoned real live people. He even issued a commutation, too.

President Obama's pardons include three men convicted of federal marijuana charges, one convicted of transporting stolen property, and another of illegal gambling. The commutation -- the first of his presidency -- involves Eugenia Marie Jennings, who was convicted in 2001 for distributing cocaine.

Since commutations involve a lessening of a crime's penalty, Jennings will be released after only serving 10 years of a 22-year sentence, reports the Associated Press. Her release is also conditional, and President Obama has required that she still serve 8 years of supervised release.

Pardons are a bit different, as they are an act of forgiveness. Though the conviction still remains on the record, all residual punishment stops. Pardoned felons may thus regain a number of rights, including the ability to carry a firearm, vote, and benefit from federal aid programs.

They still have to report the conviction to potential employers, and it can haunt them should they be charged with another felony.

President Obama can technically pardon whoever he so desires. Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution gives the President the right to "grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States."

But unlike a number of past presidential pardons, Obama's pardons aren't of a controversial nature. The six recipients are relatively unknown and served short sentences. The same can be said for the 8 pardons he issued earlier this year, and the 9 issued last year.

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