President Obama put his concern for terms handed out to non violent drug offenders into action well past the lights and cameras of a Vice television special merely highlighting and talking about it.
As you may well know, the president has been on a crusade to shed light on the countless prisoners thrown in jail serving sentences as punishment for crimes that far exceed the offenses.
Today, 95 (non violent) drug offenders got their day-double the amount of pardons granted this past summer: Their walking papers from federal prison systems.
The pardons today mark the third time this year alone the president used his clemency power to release non violent federal drug prisoners who in grave numbers are contributing to the alarming phenomenon of mass incarceration like Sharanda Jones, 48 year-old Texas woman who was serving a life sentence without parole for a single, nonviolent cocaine offense who too, had never had a previous record of any kind.
Jones has already served 16 years of the excessive sentence, leaving behind a then, 8 year-old daughter to be raised without her mother.
This prison system cleanup, which according to the president, lightens the unnecessary weight of American tax-paying dollars, not only marks the subject of significant changes in the criminal justice systems overlooked and never considered in decades; but too, repairs what, for many years has been irreparable damages and hurt within minority communities (as a result of these disproportionate sentences).
“I commuted the sentences of 95 men and women who had served their debt to society, another step forward in upholding our ideals of justice and fairness,” said the president.
In order to qualify for clemency, (in addition to good behavior) if prisoners have served at least 10 years of their imposed sentences and too, have no significant previous run-ins with the law, connections to gangs, cartels or organized crimes, they may apply for clemency.
“This is precisely the kind of case for which our reform efforts are designed,” former attorney general Eric Holder said in an interview Friday today.
“We must use our limited resources in more appropriate, more just ways. The president has acted in a significant way today. Now Congress must act and pass meaningful criminal justice reform legislation.”
Lawmakers in Congress are debating several bipartisan bills to change sentencing laws which, of course we can imagine had better be good and put into effect pending Obamas exit as 44th
president of this United States of America.
A “back-logged disaster” is what advocate for clemency reform NYU Law professor Rachel Barkow called the present clemency process in which the president has commuted the sentences of 184 of the 33,000 that have applied (versus the 181,149 who haven’t applied) and the 9,020 petitions pending government approval.
“Once the president lays out the criteria for the cases he wants to grant clemency, the measure of success for that program is: Have you processed all the people who meet those criteria?”
Julie Stewart-president of Families Against Mandatory Minimums states: “American presidents have had the power to show mercy since the founding of our Republic. President Obama is the first president in decades to use it as the founders intended. For that reason, we commend him for showing more mercy than his predecessors. But his work is not done.”
h/t Washington Post