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COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY
PETER W. RODINO, JR., New Jersey, Chairman
JACK BROOKS, Texas
EDWARD HUTCHINSON, Michigan
EARL C. DUDLEY, Jr., General Counsel
HERBERT FUCHS, Counsel
DANIEL L. COHEN, Counsel
ALEXANDER B. COOK, Counsel
SUBCOMMITTEE ON COURTS, CIVIL LIBERTIES, AND THE ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE
ROBERT W. KASTENMEIER, Wisconsin, Chairman
GEORGE E. DANIELSON, California ROBERT F. DRINAN, Massachusetts HERMAN BADILLO, New York EDWARD W. PATTISON, New York
TOM RAILSBACK, Illinois CHARLES E. WIGGINS, California
HERBERT FUCHS, Counsel
TIMOTHY A. BOGGS, Legislative Assistant
THE PRESIDENTIAL CLEMENCY PROGRAM
MONDAY, APRIL 14, 1975
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
AND THE ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE,
Washington, D.C. The subcommitte met, pursuant to notice, at 10:10 a.m. in room 2141, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Robert W. Kastenmeier [chairman of the subcommittee] presiding.
Present: Representatives Kastenmeier, Drinan, Pattison, Wiggins. Also present: Bruce A. Lehman, counsel; Timothy A. Boggs, legislative assistant; and Thomas E. Mooney, associate counsel.
Mr. KASTENMEIER. The subcommittee will come to order this morning.
As the eyes of the Nation once again turn to Southeast Asia, to the cities and to the ports, and to the villages in that troubled part of the world, to watch what may, indeed, be the last chapter in a long and sad war that has engulfed that region of the world, it is fitting that we at this time are considering one of the aspects of healing the wounds of this Nation caused by that conflict.
Two years ago, direct U.S. military involvement in the war, was terminated. Our POW's were being brought home, and a year ago on March 8, 11, and 13, this subcommittee had 3 days of hearings on the question of amnesty. We considered legislation. We opened the question of whether it is fitting that the Congress legislate in what has historically been thought of as an Executive function, the act of granting amnesty.
Since that time, and having said at that time that, perhaps, within a year we would be able to return more affirmatively to the subject, the President, on September 16 of last year, announced his own program for clemency. As a result of that program, there was a Presidential clemency program set up within the White House and three other units of the executive branch, the Selective Service, the Department of Justice, and the Department of Defense.
The program, in terms of applications for favorable treatment, was to have terminated January 31 of this year. In fact, it was twice extended and finally was terminated, as far as applications are concerned, on March 31.
The purpose of these hearings is to examine the President's program, to lay the groundwork for intelligent consideration of whether this committee and the Congress ought to make recommendations, or otherwise engage in whatever appropriate legislative response there ought to be to this unfulfilled issue.
The program has been labeled by some to be useless and punitive. Organization of the program among four separate agencies has, at best, been confusing, and the response to the program has been less than overwhelming. We would like to find out why.
We are very pleased to welcome as our first witness an old friend, a person who served in the House of Representatives and the Senate of the United States, and who, on many grounds, has been applauded as the Chairman of the Presidential Clemency Board. I should like to welcome our first witness this morning, Mr. Charles Goodell.
Mr. GOODELL. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I appreciate this opportunity to testify before your committee, and, with your consent, I would like to summarize the written statement which I have submitted.
Mr. KASTENMEIER. Without objection, your statement in its entirety will be accepted for the record, and you may proceed as you wish.
[The prepared statement of Hon. Charles Ě. Goodell follows:]
STATEMENT OF Hox. CHARLES E. GOODELL, CHAIRMAN, PRESIDENTIAL CLEMENCY
Mr. Chairman, members of the Subcommittee, my name is Charles E. Goodell, I am an attorney in private practice in Washington, and I am Chairman of President Ford's Presidential Clemency Board, which is a part of the White House Office.
I appreciate the Subcommittee's invitation to describe the operations of the Presidential Clemency Board. The program has suffered from insufficient public understanding, from confusion and misinformation about its operations. These hearings will clarify what the program is about. They will serve to dispel some myths and misconceptions about the Presidential Clemency Board.
With the Subcommittee's consent, I would like to submit my prepared statement for the record, read its highlights, and then answer your questions.
Let me first offer several observations and conclusions about the program, some of which I have come to appreciate only after having become immersed in it, and others which I have made after six months as Chairman.
From the first, I have been impressed with the importance that the President places in his clemency program and with the attention he gives to it. He took a personal hand in revising the original proposals presented to him and the formation of the Board occupied a significant amount of his attention during his first weeks in office.
At the Board's first meeting, he met with us in the Cabinet room for a lengthy discussion of his hopes for the clemency program. He met with us in the Cabinet room again for the signing of the first pardons and conditional clemencies under the Board's part of the program. He has spoken with me several times to give guidance to the Board as to how it should treat applicants coming before it. He has personally considered and resolved a number of subsidiary issues that hare a risen since the program started.
The President cares deeply about this program, asks about its progress frequently, and participates in shaping it even now. Its goals are critical to his vision of what this country should be.
Secondly, I think it is important to realize the diversity among the applicants to the Clemency Board.
Contrary to popular impressions, the overwhelming majority of the draft and military law violations we see were not explicitly related to opposition to the Vietnam War. We have applicants whose wives were leaving them, whose fathers had died leaving a family without any means of support, or whose mother, wife or child had become acutely ill. Personal problems overwhelmed them and led to violations of the law.
Over half of our applicants never completed high school. They are generally unsophisticated, unarticulate people, unable to pursue their remedies within the legal system. Had they been able to do so, many of these applicants would have received hardship deferments or conscientious objection deferments, or compassionate reassignments or hardship discharges from the military. They just did not know how to proceed.