A few months after a series of newspaper reports showed that black federal prisoners were much less likely to receive presidential pardons, the federal government is launching a study to look into the pardons process.
The Justice Department is calling on proposals for data collection and reporting for the study. "The purpose of this program is to examine how petitions for pardon are adjudicated by the Justice Department’s Office of the Pardon Attorney," according to an outline of the study.
A full pardon reverts the convicted person's legal status back to before the crime. The federal office of the pardon attorney looks into pardon applications and makes recommendations to the president.
The purpose of the study, the outline said, is to "test the primary hypothesis that all other things being equal African Americans and other minorities are less likely to progress in the pardon adjudication process than applicants of other races." It will look at the pardon applications submitted between October 1, 2001 and April 30, 2012. The study will not focus on those cases in which a convict's sentence was merely reduced.
The Washington Post and ProPublica series, called "Shades of Mercy," found that white applicants for federal pardons were almost four times as likely to be pardoned of their crimes than minority applicants. It also found that married applicants and those with backing from members of Congress fared especially well in having their pardons granted.
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Pardon Sought For Heavyweight Boxer Jack Johnson
WASHINGTON - JULY 13: U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) (C) speaks as documentary filmmaker Ken Burns (R) looks on during a media conference to discuss a legal petition seeking a posthumous presidential pardon for former boxer Jack Johnson July 13, 2004 in Washington, DC. The petition, which was prepared by the law firm Proskauer Rose, and based on findings from Burns' upcoming film on the life of Jack Johnson, concludes that the 1913 conviction of Johnson for violating the Mann Act was 'discriminatory in intent and conclusion.' (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Dmitry Medvedev, Mikhail Fedotov
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, left, shakes hands with Mikhail Fedotov, second left, the head of Russia's presidential human rights in the Gorki residence outside Moscow on Saturday, April 28, 2012. Medvedev's human rights council reported to him for the last time before he leaves office on May 7. The council has previously recommended that he pardon jailed oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky and could do so again, but Medvedev has made clear he will not do so unless Khodorkovsky acknowledges his guilt. (AP Photo/RIA-Novosti, Yekaterina Shtukina, Presidential Press Service)
Min Ko Naing
Min Ko Naing, a leader of the 88 Generation Students Group, speaks during a press conference at a shopping mall on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2012, in Yangon, Myanmar. The nearly legendary student leader from Myanmar's failed 1988 pro-democracy uprising was freed on Jan. 13 as part of a presidential pardon for 651 detainees. (AP Photo/Khin Maung Win)
Mikhail Prokhorov, Russian billionaire and New Jersey Nets owner, right, attends a meeting with supporters who nominated him for the Presidential election in Moscow, Russia, Thursday, Dec. 15, 2011. Prokhorov said his first move if elected will be to pardon jailed tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky. (AP Photo/Misha Japaridze)
French former prisoners Celine Faye (3rd
French former prisoners Celine Faye (3rdL) and Sarah Zaknoun (2ndR) pose with Sarah's parents, her mother Khedidja (L) and her father Belkacem (3rdR) as they arrive on December 30, 2009 at the Roissy Charles de Gaulle airport accompanied by French junior minister for Cooperation and Francophonie, Alain Joyandet (R) and their lawyer Gilbert Collard a day after their release from the prison in Santo Domingo. The two French women walked free from jail in the Dominican Republic yesterday thanks to a presidential pardon after 18 months behind bars for drug smuggling. Sarah Zaknoun, 19, and Celine Faye, 20, who had been sentenced to eight years in jail last year after being found with six kilograms (13 pounds) of cocaine in their luggage, spoke by telephone with French President Nicolas Sarkozy after being released following a Christmas pardon. AFP PHOTO POOL BERTRAND GUAY (Photo credit should read BERTRAND GUAY/AFP/Getty Images)
Members of the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles, from left, Robert Keller, James Donald, Albert Murray, and James Mills, take their seats for a clemency hearing in the case of death row inmate Warren Lee Hill Friday, July 13, 2012, in Atlanta. Hill's attorneys claim he is mentally disabled and should not be executed next week. Georgia was the first state to ban executing mentally disabled death row inmates, but the case of Hill has highlighted the state's strictest-in-the-nation standard for proving mental disability. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
FILE - In this Oct. 10, 2011 file photo, Joe Gordon, a Thai-born American, speaks to reporters upon his arrival at criminal court in Bangkok, Thailand. Gordon sentenced to two and a half years in Thai prison for translating a banned biography about the country's king and posting the content online has been freed by a royal pardon, the U.S. Embassy said Wednesday, July 11, 2012. (AP Photo/Apichart Weerawong, File)
FILE - In this Monday June 30,2008 file photo Ronald Smith, a Canadian on death row in the United States, who has spent the last 25 years trying to avoid the death penalty for two 1982 murders, at the Montana State Prison in Deer Lodge, Mont. A Canadian on death row in Montana for killing two men 30 years ago was dealt a major blow Monday in his bid to avoid execution, after the state's board of pardons and parole recommended Ronald Smith be denied clemency. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Bill Graveland, File)
FILE - In this Dec. 16, 2011 file photo, defeated presidential candidate and former army chief Sarath Fonseka gestures as he is escorted by prison guards to a court room in Colombo, Sri Lanka. High Court granted bail for Fonseka on Friday, May 18, 2012, a move seen as a step toward a full pardon for the man credited with ending the country's long civil war but who later was jailed after challenging the president in elections. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe, File)
An ambulance removes dead bodies of shooting victims from a house in Lahore, Pakistan on Monday, April 30, 2012. The widow and mother-in-law of one of two Pakistanis men shot and killed by a CIA contractor last year, have been murdered in Lahore, police said. It appears the killings may have been related to the large amount of "blood money" Zohra Haider received to pardon her husband's killer, Raymond Davis. (AP Photo/K.M. Chaudary)