Two turkeys named Bread and Butter will know on Tuesday which one of them will win the title of “National Thanksgiving Turkey,” although both turkeys will receive an official pardon.
However, others who might not be so lucky—prisoners with unfair sentences—are praying the president will give them a pardon at Thanksgiving as well.
In October, the president, on a visit to South Carolina, called his impeachment inquiry, a “witch hunt” by Democrats. Speaking from the podium to a mostly black audience, President Trump related the unfairness he was suffering from the impeachment process to the injustice many behind bars were enduring, who were either innocent of had unduly harsh punishments.
“We’re working to put an end for everybody to horrible injustice and the horrible practices that we’ve seen,” said the president, as reported by the Washington Examiner.
Hopes were raised when President Trump asked former prisoners there to give him a list of prisoners they considered should be released from prison.
“Justice, fairness, and due process are core tenets of our democracy,” he said. “In America, you’re innocent until proven guilty, and we don’t have investigations in search of that crime.”
Sharing the podium with the president were Alice Johnson, and Tanesha Bannister. Johnson was released by provisions in the First Step Act, signed by the president in 2018, after serving 21 years of a life sentence for drug conspiracy. Bannister was released after serving 16 years behind bars.
Speaking to Johnson, the president asked her, “You’re going to give me a big list, and we’re going to do some good things, okay?”
Then, he asked Bannister, “Tanesha, like Alice, I want you to give me some recommendations of people that you lived with for many years that you know are good people that are in there for a long period,” he said.
He added, “Give me the right ones, the two of you, and as soon as you can, okay?” adding, “Because you know some great people that are going to be there for many, many years.”
“The president is a man to his word, he don’t get enough credit,” said Bannister, “I’m here today speaking with you because of the president.”
The president feels he has been unfairly put on trial, and always maintained there was no quid pro quo in his conversation with the Ukrainian president—the July 25 phone call that instigated the impeachment against him after an anonymous whistleblower complaint.
So hopes are high this Thanksgiving among prisoners who may have received unfair prison sentences. This is not the first year for wishful thinking, though.
Angela Wright, 42, is one of the hopefuls, “In November 2017, I wished I was Drumstick or Wishbone. Then in 2018, I wished I was Peas or Carrots,” said Wright, who has served almost half a 30-year sentence for dealing crack cocaine. “So far, the answer is, ‘Maybe, if I were a turkey.’ So, this year, I’m begging [Trump], ‘Gobble Gobble, please have mercy on me and my son! We will be forever grateful and make you proud.” reported the Washington Examiner.
Michael Pelletier, 63, has been paralyzed since childhood and has been on lists to the White House, pleading for clemency, in the past. Pelletier is serving a life sentence for smuggling marijuana into Maine from Canada. Pot is now legal in both places.
“The only thing worse than serving a life sentence for marijuana is serving a life sentence for marijuana in a wheelchair with no decent physical therapy to prevent bladder infections and further progression of my disability,” said Pelletier. “It would be the happiest day of my life to wheel out of this prison and into the arms of my many brothers and sisters who are anxious to welcome me back home.”
Others now serving prison terms are also hoping for clemency for some prisoners.
“I pray President Trump will be the first sitting president of my adult lifetime who will grant a human clemency over the Thanksgiving holiday,” said CAN-DO Foundation founder Amy Povah.
“He marches to his own drum, so I’m thinking he could set a wonderful example and free a few people together with the two traditional turkeys. That would truly be something to celebrate!”