Amnesty

Amnesty: "a general pardon for offenses, especially political offenses, against a government, often granted before any trial or conviction" ("amnesty").

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President Jimmy Carter

Gerald Ford was the first to offer conditional amnesty to the deserters and draft evaders of the Vietnam War. They could receive the amnesty if they agreed to take public-service jobs. Roughly 22,000 men applied for the amnesty under Ford (World Book).

President Jimmy Carter granted a full pardon to all those draft dodgers that fled to Canada. On January 21, 1977, his first day in office, Jimmy Carter fulfilled one of his campaign promises by granting amnesty to all of the people who dodged the draft. About 100,000 people fled to other parts of the world to avoid being called into the draft. Most of the draft dodgers, roughly 90%, fled to Canada (Glass).
Those men that had fled to Canada faced the prospect of prison sentences if they were to return to the United States. Approximately 50,000 people ended up staying in Canada so that they could avoid prosecution (Glass).

For the most part, after the Vietnam War, the United States Government kept prosecuting those who evaded the draft even though the Vietnam War had ended. Altogether, 209,517 men were accused of violating the laws, while another 360,000 were not charged for it at all (Glass). Carter did exclude certain groups from the amnesty, however. He did not grant the amnesty to the deserters of the war, any soldier that received a dishonorable discharge, or the protesters (TIME).

Soon after Jimmy Carter announced the amnesty proclamation (Proclamation 4483), a poll was taken by the American citizens. The poll showed that 46% of Americans opposed amnesty while 42% were in favor of it. Those against claimed that Proclamation 4483 was much too lenient when allowing draft dodgers to come back to America from the places that they had fled to without the fear of being punished. The people that supported the proclamation, however, thought that it did not do enough. Carter's proclamation left out the deserters and the soldiers that ended up receiving a dishonorable discharge, which was roughly 434,600 people ("Proclamation 4483).


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Shortly after, Carter offered amnesty to those who had deserted and those who had received a dishonorable discharge. Only a small amount of those took advantage of the amnesty and overall, 1,903 dishonorable discharges and 28,759 bad conduct charges were not affected ("Proclamation 4483").


The United States Senate voted to block the funds for the amnesty program with a margin of 44 to 38 on June 24, 1977. The thought for cutting off the funding was to keep the federal employees from processing the dismissals of the draft evasion charges. It also aimed to keep those federal officials from taking action to end any investigations that involved alleged draft evasion. The officials of the United States Justice Department announced that the cutoff would have practically no effect, since just about every investigation and draft invasion case had been dropped ("Proclamation 4483").

Out of the multiple thousands of the the draft evaders, a mere 283 took advantage of the pardon that President Carter enacted. The 7,500 draft resisters that that fled to Canada ended up abandoning their United States citizenship and had absolutely no desire to return to America ("Proclamation 4483").


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