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President Obama To Grant Clemency To Hundreds Of Nonviolent Prisoners

DUBLIN, CA – A senior administration official told Yahoo News Monday that by the time Obama leaves office, he could grant clemency to “hundreds, perhaps thousands” of individuals who have been locked up for years for nonviolent drug crimes.

Obama Plans To Grant Clemency For Nonviolent Drug Offenders

According to Yahoo, President Obama is ready to utilize his pardon power in order to grant clemency to those who have served severe jail time for nonviolent drug crimes.

james coleWhite House counsel Kathryn Ruemmler stated this past Tuesday that Obama has directed the Justice Department to focus on the improvement of clemency recommendation processes and to recruit more applications from those who are serving jail time for drug law violations.

“The president believes that one important purpose can be to help correct the effects of outdated and overly harsh sentences that Congress and the American people have since recognized are no longer in the best interests of justice,” Ruemmler said.

“There are more low-level, nonviolent drug offenders who remain in prison, and who would likely have received a substantially lower sentence if convicted of precisely the same offenses today.” – Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole

These moves towards helping inmates with low-level drug charges follow the late January announcement in which Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole asked defense lawyers to help the government find prisoners of these low-level drug charges, and encourage them to apply for clemency in order to get rid of the extreme penalties that were given.

“There are more low-level, nonviolent drug offenders who remain in prison, and who would likely have received a substantially lower sentence if convicted of precisely the same offenses today,” Cole stated earlier this year. “This is not fair, and it harms our criminal justice system.”

Obama Starting to Change Clemency Frequency

As mentioned by the Drug Policy Alliance, Attorney General Eric Holder has acknowledged the mass incarceration in the United States, and he has made several public statements promising significant change to mandatory minimums and harsh sentencing guidelines. However, President Obama has used his power of granting clemency less than nearly any other U.S. President.

According to the Yahoo article, the Obama administration has granted just 10 commutations out of 10,000 requests and has granted 52 of the 1,600 pardon requests that made it to his desk. However, a new initiative he directed to the Justice Department could increase those numbers by hundreds and even thousands beginning this spring.

“With half a million people still behind bars on non-violent drug charges, clearly thousands are deserving of a second chance.” – Anthony Papa

If Obama follows through with this recent announcement, he would be making a critical impact to nonviolent drug offenders who have been serving extreme penalties for a great portion of their lives.

anthonyAnthony Papa, Media Relations Manager for the Drug Policy Alliance, served a total of 12 years because of the notorious Rockefeller Drug Laws and was finally granted clemency in 1997.

“This would be a positive step toward righting the wrongs of our broken criminal justice system,” Papa expressed. “I hope governors with the same power at the state level follow his lead and reunite more families.

He goes on to say: “With half a million people still behind bars on non-violent drug charges, clearly thousands are deserving of a second chance. Congress should act immediately to reduce the draconian federal mandatory minimum sentences that condemn thousands to decades behind bars for non-violent drug offenses.”

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Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) New York, New York

The Drug Policy Alliance is among the most prominent organizations for drug policy reform in America. The group was founded in 2000 and its focus spans from medical marijuana to youth drug education.In addition to …

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