The presidential pardon can be used as a political tool. Where a president thinks that a law is too strict, and that people are being convicted and imprisoned needlessly, due to harsh penalties for breaking the law, he has the ability to commute the sentence or to grant a full pardon. An example was when President John F. Kennedy pardoned people who broke the law for drug offenses under the Narcotics Act of 1956. The law imposed harsh minimum sentences, even for first-time offenders. The minimum sentence was five years, but by pardoning the offenders, President Kennedy effectively overturned the law.
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