“When we worked on grace during the Obama administration, it was based on objective criteria, not the recommendations of a political ally or celebrity,” said Kevin Ring, who was and is in federal prison for his role in the Jack Abramoff lobby scandal President of the FAMM Criminal Justice Reform Group, formerly known as Families Against Mandatory Minimums.

The group operates a closed Facebook forum for 7,000 family members of inmates, which was filled with anxious but excited messages of prayer and hopes for relatives to be released ahead of the final round of Mr. Trump’s grace grants issued 12 hours earlier The institution.

“And I was incredibly sad because I thought you really have next to no chance because he didn’t use the process your loved one would be in the mix for in the first place,” said Mr. Ring.

Even some beneficiaries of Mr Trump’s grace grants admit the process is not fair.

There are “so many thousands of inmates who never get a chance to put their names on there, it’s just so unfair,” said Barry Wachsler, who paid the legal fees related to the appeals process and Mr Weinstein’s reprieve. “Does it help if you have the money and the right connections? You know i think so It definitely does. “

Mr. Wachsler, a Long Island businessman, said he met Mr. Weinstein by chance five years ago while visiting a friend in federal prison who introduced the two men.

Weinstein, 45, pleaded guilty in 2013 to indicting a Ponzi-style real estate program that resulted in losses of $ 200 million, much of which was from investors in an Orthodox Jewish community in New Jersey, with which he was connected. Prosecutors said he had won the trust of potential victims by recruiting rabbis to vouch for him and by donating his illicit profits to Jewish organizations.

In 2014, he pleaded guilty to charges of defrauding additional investors, including falsely claiming access to coveted Facebook shares in the company’s upcoming IPO and the means to pay legal fees related to his previous one Charge used.