Doug Berman at Sentencing Law and Policy
gives us this report about commutations from the White House
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Bush granted pardons Tuesday to carjackers, drug dealers, a moonshiner and an election-laws violator but not to I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, his vice president's former top aide who was convicted in the case of the leaked identity of a CIA operative.
In all, Bush pardoned 29 convicts and reduced the prison sentence of one more in the end-of-the-year presidential tradition.
Justice Department spokesman Erik Ablin said Bush has granted 142 pardons and commuted five sentences since taking office in 2001 — lagging far behind the pace set by most modern presidents.
The list was issued with little fanfare Tuesday afternoon by the Office of the Pardon Attorney at the Justice Department. Bush was not expected to issue any more pardons this year.
In July, Bush commuted Libby's 2 1/2 year sentence, sparing Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff from serving any prison time after being convicted of perjury and obstructing justice. Libby, who recently dropped appeals to have his convictions overturned, has paid a $250,000 fine and remains on two years probation.
Libby was the only person to face criminal charges in the case of the 2003 leak of then-CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity. Plame, who has since left the CIA, contends the White House was trying to discredit her husband, a critic of Bush's Iraq policy.
A pardon amounts to federal forgiveness for one's crime, while a commutation cuts short an existing prison term.
Nearly all of those to win pardons this year were small-time crooks who at most were imprisoned for five years. Many of them never served time at all, and instead were fined or put on probation.