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President Biden has granted the first three pardons of his presidency, as well as commuting the sentence of 75 others for nonviolent, drug-related convictions.
A Kennedy-era Secret Service agent, the nation’s first Black Secret Service agent on a presidential detail, and two other people who were convicted on drug-related charges have been provided clemency.
Tuesday’s announcement is the first use of clemency power of the Biden presidency. Many recipients are Black or Brown, and the White House said each has displayed efforts to rehabilitate themselves.
“America is a nation of laws and second chances, redemption, and rehabilitation,” Biden said in a statement announcing the clemencies. “Elected officials on both sides of the aisle, faith leaders, civil rights advocates, and law enforcement leaders agree that our criminal justice system can and should reflect these core values that enable safer and stronger communities.”
Civil rights and criminal justice reform groups have been calling on President Biden to prioritize criminal justice reform and make good on his campaign promise to form a task force to evaluate how criminal cases are prosecuted in the U.S.
Biden pardons three individuals
- Pres. Biden pardons Abraham Bolden Sr., 86, the first Black Secret Service agent to serve on a presidential detail has been. In 1964, Bolden, who served on President John F. Kennedy’s detail, faced federal bribery charges that he attempted to sell a copy of a Secret Service file. His first trial ended in a hung jury. Following his conviction in a second trial, key witnesses admitted lying at the prosecutor’s request. Bolden, of Chicago, was denied a retrial and served several years in federal prison. Bolden has maintained his innocence and wrote a book in which he argued he was targeted for speaking out against racist and unprofessional behavior in the Secret Service.
- Biden pardons Betty Jo Bogans, 51, was convicted in 1998 of possession with intent to distribute crack cocaine in Texas after attempting to transport drugs for her boyfriend and his accomplice. Bogans, a single mother with no prior record, received a seven-year sentence. In the years since her release from prison, Bogans has held consistent employment, even while undergoing cancer treatment, and has raised a son.
- Biden pardons Dexter Jackson , 52, of Athens, Georgia, was convicted in 2002 for using his pool hall to facilitate the trafficking of marijuana. Jackson pleaded guilty and acknowledged he allowed his business to be used by marijuana dealers. After Jackson was released from prison, he converted his business into a cell phone repair service that employs local high school students through a program that provides young adults with work experience. Jackson has built and renovated homes in his community, which has a shortage of affordable housing.