The federal system lacks California’s explicit check on the president’s pardoning power, and President Trump has made the most of his unfettered discretion. For example, last year he pardoned Joe Arpaio, the former sheriff of Maricopa County, Ariz., and a staunch Trump political ally, before Arpaio could be sentenced on his conviction for criminal contempt of court. That’s a sharp distinction from Brown’s pardons, which affect only convicted criminals who have served their sentences but otherwise would have continued to be punished for life — by laws and practices that, for example, prevent them from earning professional degrees or licenses, or otherwise regaining their rights as citizens because of their criminal records. Ditto for the governor’s commutations, which may reduce but do not negate criminal punishment.
Source: latimes.com – Los Angeles Times