ProPublica’s in-depth investigation of racial disparities in America’s presidential pardon system
Over the past decade, presidential pardons have been four times more likely to favor whites, regardless of the type and severity of the crime committed. Applicants with connections to the United States Congress are also more likely to receive a pardon, despite 2001 reforms designed to minimize the impact of political influence on awards of clemency. In this yearlong investigation, ProPublica reporters Dafna Linzer and Jennifer LaFleur drew from hundreds of interviews with former White House counsels and pardon attorneys from the past five administrations, as well as from official documents including pardon applications and internal Justice Department memos. These sources, along with tables, graphs, and other exhibits, reveal a disturbing pattern in how and why pardons have—and have not—been awarded.