Justice Dept. broadening criteria for clemency

New criteria aimed at inmates serving time for nonviolent drug offenses
Associated Press
Apr 21, 2014

The Justice Department is broadening the criteria it will use in evaluating clemency petitions from certain federal prisoners and expects the changes to result in thousands of new applications, Attorney General Eric Holder said Monday.

The new criteria, which will be detailed later this week and are aimed at inmates serving time for nonviolent drug offenses, are intended to lead to a reduction in the nation's federal prison population and also "ensure that those who have paid their debts have a chance to become productive citizens," Holder said in a video message.

The announcement is part of an ongoing Obama administration push to re-evaluate sentences for drug crimes that officials believe were unduly harsh and were imposed under old federal guidelines that treated convictions for crack cocaine offenses more punitively than those involving the powder form of the drug.

In December, for instance, President Barack Obama commuted the sentences of eight drug prisoners — including six who were serving life sentences — and the Justice Department in January publicly encouraged defense lawyers from around the country to help low-level, nonviolent drug offenders prepare petitions for clemency.

The Justice Department evaluates clemency applications for the president's review, taking into account factors such as the seriousness of the crime, the person's acceptance of responsibility and behavior since the conviction and any input from the prosecutors who handled the case. Historically, the overwhelming majority of requests for pardons and sentence commutations are not granted, a trend that has continued in the Obama administration.

But with the use of new criteria in deciding when to recommend a clemency petition to the president, the Justice Department expects to receive thousands of new applications and may assign dozens of lawyers to handle those applications, Holder said.

"The White House has indicated it wants to consider additional clemency applications, to restore a degree of justice, fairness, and proportionality for deserving individuals who do not pose a threat to public safety. The Justice Department is committed to recommending as many qualified applicants as possible for reduced sentences," Holder said.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said Monday that the number of commutations granted depend on the number of worthy candidates.

"And in terms of how many deserving candidates are out there, I couldn't begin to speculate," he said.

Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, said he was heartened by the push to increase the number of clemency applications after years of what he described as relative inactivity on that front.

"What you see is some focused attention on the part of the administration to deal with this in a serious way," he said.

 

Comments

mikeylikesit

bet he takes it easy on illegal gun running too..

Darwin's choice

Again....!

santown419

Only the ones that was under bush. Who would of thought.

Darwin's choice

Nice try, the system tried by Bush was no where near the blatant stupidity by this administration. Holders group simply let the guns go out the doors, with absolutely no means of tracking!

rbenn

And lets not forget Obama used executive privilege to cover holders a$$. Nice try santown

Stop It

santown sees a dark skinned face and goes into instant racist mode.

Dr. Information

its in their nature. Race card, race card....where did I put that daw gone race card at.

There you go again

Define "worthy candidates", please.

rec8888

Its hard just to read what's going on with our elected officials. Not only do there decisions scare you, you wonder where there thinking comes from, common sense not even in the picture any more. Every decision based on political advantages. I said from day one, if Obama gets elected he will divide us as a country. Well guess I was a prophet

Darwin's choice

Got tomorrows lotto numbers, by chance?...lol!

And, you were correct!

The Big Dog's back

Gee, I wonder how many other right wingnuts made that same prediction that if a Black man becomes President it will divide the country. Well you're to late swami, bush already divided it.

rbenn

more cranial rectosis from pound puppy. Blaming bush still? LOL! Wake up Alice get out of wonderland

Darwin's choice

What's funny about dog, is he's always proping up obama, but holder is on his own! And, they're both in the same "club".....

rbenn

And not to mention, puppy always throws the race card because he brings nothing of relevance to the proverbial table.

Dr. Information

Just what Obama wants. More loonies out on the town voting.