Biden issues no pardons or commutations through Sept. 30

From his inauguration through Sept. 30, President Joe Biden (D) issued no pardons or commutations. Since 1902, the other presidents not to issue a pardon or commutation in that same window of time were Barack Obama (D), George W. Bush (R), Bill Clinton (D), and Richard Nixon (R). Bush and Clinton did not issue a pardon or commutation until their third year in office. As of Nov. 2021, presidents have issued an average 120.4 pardons and 55.8 commutations annually.

The U.S. Department of Justice maintains a record of statistics about pardons and commutations. These figures are broken down by fiscal years, which run from Oct. 1 to SeptemSept.ber 30. When presidential transitions occur (such as between Donald Trump and Biden), both presidents can issue pardons and commutations in the same fiscal year.

The U.S. Constitution, in Article II, Section 2, grants the president the power of executive clemency. Executive clemency includes the power to pardon, in which the president overturns a federal conviction and restores “an individual to the state of innocence that existed before the conviction.” Executive clemency also includes the power of commutation, which allows a president to shorten or reduce a federal prison sentence.