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Biden issues first pardons, announces prison reentry efforts


Over a year into his presidency, President Joe Biden issued his first three pardons. The most notable pardon went to Abraham Bolden, Sr., who made history as the first Black Secret Service agent to serve on a presidential detail.

According to a White House clemency recipient list published Tuesday, Bolden was charged with federal bribery charges accusing him of attempting to sell a copy of a Secret Service file. After a hung jury in his first trial, Bolden was convicted in his second. After the conviction, witnesses admitted lying at the prosecutor’s request. Despite this, Bolden was denied a retrial.

“He has steadfastly maintained his innocence, arguing that he was targeted for prosecution in retaliation for exposing unprofessional and racist behavior within the U.S. Secret Service,” the White House said. “Mr. Bolden has received numerous honors and awards for his ongoing work to speak out against the racism he faced in the Secret Service in the 1960s, and his courage in challenging injustice. Mr. Bolden has also been recognized for his many contributions to his community following his release from prison.”

The other two pardons went to Betty Jo Bogans and Dexter Jackson. The two, as well as the 75 commutations President Biden announced with the pardons, were convicted of “non-violent drug offenses.” According to a statement from Biden, many of those commuted “have been serving on home confinement during the COVID-pandemic” and “would have received a lower sentence if they were charged with the same offense today.”

Biden’s first pardons also came with a series of job training and reentry programs for those in prison or who were recently released from prison. According to a fact sheet on the programs, the goal of them is “to advance employment, bolster reentry, empower formerly incarcerated persons, and strengthen our communities and our economy.”

“America is a nation of laws and second chances, redemption, and rehabilitation,” Biden said. “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.”


Shannon Longworth: President Biden has issued the first pardons of his presidency.
The white house announced them as it launches a series of job-training programs for those recently released from prison.
Among those pardoned – was a Kennedy-era secret service agent.
Abraham Bolden was convicted of bribery for trying to sell a copy of a Secret Service file.
But later, key witnesses admitted to lying.
Despite this — Bolden was denied a new trial.
The other two pardons — as well as 75 other commuted sentences announced today — were related to non-violent, drug-related convictions.
Criminal justice reform groups have pushed the White House to work harder to reduce disparities in the system. Biden’s move also comes as the administration faces congressional scrutiny over the treatment of inmates in prisons across the country.
President Trump granted about 140 pardons and clemency to more than 230 during his four years in office.