Washington, DC, April 23, 2014 --(PR.com
)-- Obama Administration Has Legal - Moral Duty to Provide Clemency Relief for Mandatory Minimums.
Criminal justice reform advocates today announced support for the Obama Administration’s clemency review plans. However, advocates say that the most efficient and just way to provide relief to the tens of thousands of people incarcerated for unjust mandatory minimum drug offenses is for the President to use his clemency power to reduce sentences across the board for all non-violent drug offenders. Advocates also say that the government, law schools, state bars, and other professional law associations must move quickly to prepare to provide legal assistance to inmates or those most deserving clemency won’t stand a chance.
“The Justice Department’s announcement that it will review federal clemency procedures for certain drug offenders is but one a small step in the right direction down a long road that must be traveled for the sake of justice,” said Dee Hunter, Executive Director of the Federal Clemency Advocacy Project. “It is great that Justice is staffing up its clemency division, however unless significant legal resources are made available to inmates, tens of thousands cases won’t even get a chance to be reviewed," said Hunter.
“President Obama has a legal and moral duty to use his clemency powers to provide relief to tens of thousands of individuals currently incarcerated in federal prisons," said Hunter. “The best way to resolve this is for the President to simply reduce all non-violent offenses by a percentage across the board.”
“This position is supported by a long line of legal precedent involving use of the presidential clemency power. Previous presidents have used the clemency power to provide broad based relief to groups that were subjected to what were perceived to be unjust and overly harsh sentences,” said Hunter.
Federal clemency powers were used to provide relief to tens of thousands of former confederates after the Civil War. The federal clemency power has been used to commute the sentences of thousands convicted of alcohol related offenses during prohibition. Thousands of people who faced federal prosecution for evading the draft during the Vietnam War were also provided with relief through federal clemency.
“The administration has honorably admitted that the criminal justice system has a desperate impact on the poor and people of color. They have made provisions to provide relief to those who have been charged but not sentenced," said Hunter. “They must also provide relief to the tens of thousands who have already been sentenced and are serving unfair and prolonged sentences," he continued.
The U.S. Sentencing Commission has recently voted to amend the federal sentencing guidelines to establish lower sentences for drug related offenses. Legislation is also currently in both houses of Congress that would lower mandatory minimum sentences and make retroactive a reduction in the law designed to address the discrepancy in sentencing between crack cocaine versus power cocaine, which is still 18 years to one year.
The Federal Clemency Advocacy Center is a non-profit organization based in Washington, D.C. Its mission is to advocate for clemency related matters in the federal criminal justice system. www.FederalClemency.org
Dee Hunter, JD, Excutive Director, is a graduate of Howard University School of Law and a Master’s of Divinity student at Wesley Theological Seminary both located in Washington, DC.
Contact: Dee Hunter, JD