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Joe Biden stated on October 5, 2020 in an NBC town hall in Miami: During the Obama/Biden administration “18,000 people got clemency.”
Joe Biden stated on October 5, 2020 in an NBC town hall in Miami:
During the Obama/Biden administration “18,000 people got clemency.”

During a town hall in Miami, NBC’s Lester Holt asked former Vice President Joe Biden about the Obama administration’s record on criminal justice reform.

Holt said that President Donald Trump and Biden’s critics will say that Biden had almost 50 years in government and wasn’t able to accomplish criminal justice reform including when the Obama/Biden administration had a Democratic majority in both houses of Congress.

Biden pushed back with a defense of the Obama/Biden administration’s efforts related to criminal justice.

“Yeah, we did. 18,000 people got clemency,” Biden said. “He got two or three, what he’s talking about.”

We thought the 18,000 clemency figure for Obama sounded high based on our fact-check of a Facebook post comparing the pardon records of Obama and Trump. It was.

We asked the Biden campaign about what he was referring to when he said “he got two or three.” The Biden campaign didn’t reply to our questions seeking clarification.

Obama’s clemency actions were a fraction of what Biden said.

Article II, Section 2, of the Constitution says the president “shall have the Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for offenses against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.”

The general term for these presidential actions is clemency, but there are two types. A pardon, described as an “expression of the President’s forgiveness,” is issued after a person’s conviction or after a person’s sentence has been completed. It restores rights, such as the right to vote or run for office. A commutation reduces a sentence, either totally or partially, but it does not remove the conviction.

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