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WASHINGTON: US President Joe Biden on Tuesday wielded his clemency powers for the first time, announcing pardons for three people, including the first Black man to serve in the White House’s Secret Service detail.

Biden also announced the commutation of sentences for 75 others, mainly going to those serving lengthy terms for non-violent drug offences.

“America is a nation of laws and second chances, redemption, and rehabilitation,” Biden said in a statement.

The pardons are for “people who have demonstrated their commitment to rehabilitation and are striving every day to give back and contribute to their communities,” he said.

One recipient is Abraham Bolden, an 86-year-old former member of the US Secret Service and the first African American to protect a president, joining the detail in John F. Kennedy’s administration.

He was charged with crimes related to attempting to sell a copy of a Secret Service file and convicted after two trials, although the White House says that key witnesses later admitted to lying.

Bolden always maintained his innocence and said he was targeted “in retaliation for exposing unprofessional and racist behavior within the US Secret Service,” the White House said in a statement.

Bolden went on to win multiple awards for his activism and contributions to the community after release from prison, the White House said.

The other two pardons went to a man and a woman convicted on drug charges, but who also went on to reform their lives and work with their communities.

The president said that many of the 75 commutations affected people “on home confinement during the Covid pandemic — and many of whom would have received a lower sentence if they were charged with the same offense today.”

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