Rewarding Loyalty; Trump May Have Broken the Law in Haste to Pardon Sheriff Joe Arpaio

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President Trump granted the first presidential pardon of his term to Sheriff Joe Arpaio. The 85-year-old sheriff was found guilty in July of ignoring a court order prohibiting him from detaining people based solely on suspicions about their immigration status, according to news sources.


Political scientist, Jeffry Crouch’s Book on the Pardon Power, explains the purpose and structure of extending a pardon: Pardons are granted for two reasons. Pardons are granted, “to either provide mercy or correct a miscarriage of justice, in an individual case; or on more general grounds based on public policy.”

“Trump chose a politically polarizing anti-immigration sheriff as the recipient of his first pardon–the kind of controversial grant of clemency recent presidents have reserved for the 11th hour rather than their first act, according to USA Today.

Presidents have the power to pardon elderly convicts.  The Bureau of Prisons’ compassionate release program grants sentence reductions for elderly inmates over the age 65 or has served 50% of their sentence.

Per the Washington Post, Trump’s pardon of Arpaio does not fit either category very well.

Did President Trump break the law? This may be problematic for President Trump in several ways. Arpaio didn’t meet the Justice Department guidelines for a pardon. Arpaio has not been sentenced yet; his hearing was set for October. More importantly, he hadn’t expressed remorse and he hadn’t even applied to the Office of Pardon Attorney, reported by USA Today.

According to the Department of Justice of the office of the pardon attorney, petitions for pardons are normally considered only after five years post-conviction. It is important to note when considering a petition, the Department of Justice looks for the petitioner to provide a statement of acceptance of responsibility for the criminal conduct.  Additionally that the petitioner made restitution to the victims.

“Pardons also serve as a check against the judicial branch, when the president feels a grave miscarriage of justice has occurred.” At his Phoenix, rally Trump appears to make the claim, that “Sheriff Joe was convicted for doing his job.”

“The problem with that, though, is that Arpaio was convicted for doing the opposite of his job. As a sworn officer of law enforcement, he violated the law and then ignored court orders designed to bring his policies in line with statutory and constitutional mandates. Two different federal judges found, respectively, that the constitutional violations committed by Arpaio’s office were broad in scope, involve its highest ranking command staff, and flow into its management of internal affairs investigations and that he willfully violated directives to correct those violations,” according to the Washington Post.

Speculations grew for months on whether or not Trump would pardon Sheriff Arpaio. President Trump reportedly asked Attorney Jeff Sessions whether it would be possible to drop the federal criminal case against Joe Arpaio. Jeff Sessions told Trump such a move would be “inappropriate but a pardon could be granted upon Arpaio’s conviction”, The Washington Post reported. 

GCE obtained an exclusive interview with clemency recipient, Amy Povah, founder of Candoclemency.  During our discussion, she stressed the importance of the Presidential pardon and clemency. While President Obama was in office, Povah brought worldwide attention to men and women serving long and harsh prison federal sentences. Several men and women featured on the organizations’ website received clemency.

“It’s upsetting that President Trump chose to exercise his executive pardon power for someone who has not even been sentenced yet and leapfrogged over many applications that are still pending,” said Povah.  “We have a long list of cases that were neither denied or approved by President Obama.”

Earlier this year, in an article written by the Huffington Post, Povah discussed women behind bars. “Women are the fastest growing population in prison. More than one million are currently behind bars or under the control of the criminal justice system, and the rate of incarceration for women has been growing nearly twice as fast as that of men since 1985.

The war on drugs is a primary reason for this drastic increase. Many women wind up being involved in criminal acts as a result of drugs and their romantic entanglements with abusive partners, and they often pay hefty prices for this activity. Indeed, nearly 60 percent of women in federal prisons are there for drug convictions. These women often play small roles in the criminal enterprise, sometimes under significant duress, and rarely are involved in violence or have extensive prior convictions.

Although Arpaio’s pardon comes with controversy, Povah hopes that President Trump will use his power to grant clemency for the men and women that still remain in prison. Michelle West, Alice Johnson, Lavonne Roach and Shanita McKnight are just a few deserving women. Leopoldo Hernandez-Miranda, John Knock, Ricardo Riojas, Pedro Moreno and Rudolfo Arias; are all serving time for marijuana. Darryl Solomon Hope, Michael Pelletier, and William Underwood are on the list of the top 25 most deserving men.

For more information visit and read about the top 25 men and women deserving of clemency. Information on the website includes clemency recipients of President Obama.


During President Obama’s term in office, 212 pardons and 1,715 clemency were granted. President Trump should do it, “BIG LEAGUE.”


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