It is really ridiculous, the president being able to commute a sentence, isn't it? It shows not only the random unfairness and disparity of federal sentencing, and of whom actually gets sent to prison, but also how there is no such thing as 'blind justice'. What is the point of a jury reaching a decision if a president can then reverse it? Law is messy, and subjective to begin with, but this is ridiculous. Read "Fuzzy Justice Clearly Stinks," by Chicago Tribune's Clarence Page on this issue today, he mentions Martha Stewart and the rapper Lil' Kim. It seems one's politics can predict whether one thinks Bush's action here is acceptable or not (i.e. see David Brooks's column this week in the NYT for the opposite view). But really, isn't it silly that a president can do this, politics aside? What's the point of it? I wonder how the president's ability to commute a sentence of make pardons came about? Anyone know? It would be interesting to see just who has been pardoned or had their sentence reversed by a president.
But really, Martha Stewart didn't do too badly, did she, after serving her four months. And it is those poor souls who are not famous, whose cases are not being written about, that get sent to federal prison for terribly long sentences for relatively minor offenses. And there's no chance they will receive a presidential pardon or sentence commutation.