Barack Obama is leaving office and he’s having a fire sale on pardons. On Monday, he granted 153 commutations and 78 pardons, the most individual acts of clemency granted in a single day by any American president in history:
The president has the power to commute a sentence or pardon the crime that a citizen is convicted of. A president’s decision to grant clemency is not reviewable and he (she) does not have to give a reason.
Clemency is the overall term for official forgiveness of a violation. A “pardon” wipes out the conviction while a “commutation” leaves the conviction on record, but wipes out the punishment.
In total, Obama has commuted the sentences of 1,176 individuals, including 395 life sentences. He has pardoned 148 individuals. By comparison, the five previous presidents granted 117 commutations — total.