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December 23, 2015; Vol. 14 No. 12

Clemency Project 2014 Welcomes Commutation of 95 Federal Prison Sentences And Still Needs Your Help

In his first clemency grants since July, President Barack Obama commuted the sentences of 95 prisoners on December 18, 27 of whom were applicants whose petitions were supported by Clemency Project 2014.

"While it is my hope that President Obama will increase the use of his clemency power going forward, one can only be happy for each and every of today's grantees and their loved ones." said Cynthia W. Roseberry, project manager for Clemency Project 2014.

However, the work is not yet done, and time is running out as the Obama Administration approaches its final year. There are still several thousand inmates whose cases need to be reviewed. Experienced criminal defense lawyers are best positioned to help. You all know how draconian mandatory minimums are and what it means to say goodbye to a human being facing decades behind bars. Now, as the rest of the country awakens to this reality, and the White House is ramping up its commitment to act, NACDL desperately needs you to pitch in.

Clemency Project 2014 has now streamlined many of its procedures. Clemency Project staff attorneys have pre-screened cases, including a review of the presentence report, so that cases that appear to meet the criteria can be assigned for review. Quite literally, if all NACDL members agreed to take just one case, we could complete this project with time to spare. 

NACDL needs you to demonstrate to the country, to our profession, and to our clients that we are the most generous, empathic, and skilled lawyers, and that we are ready and willing to help.

Please join this historic opportunity to reverse the unduly harsh prison sentences that were imposed upon so many. To volunteer, please click here.

To those of you already signed on to this great project, we thank you! With your continued dedication, NACDL members can truly make a difference in this historic effort.

Read more here.

NACDL Joins Civil Rights and Criminal Justice Reform Organizations in Support of HR 2521
In December, NACDL joined civil rights, human rights, faith-based and other criminal justice reform organizations in sending a letter to House Representatives in support of HR 2521, the Restoring Education and Learning (REAL) Act of 2015, which would reinstate Pell Grant eligibility for people in state and federal prisons. The 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act removed Pell Grant eligibility for individuals incarcerated in federal and state correctional facilities. In our 2014 report, Collateral Damage: America’s Failure to Forgive or Forget in the War on Crime – A Roadmap to Restore Rights and Status After Arrest of Conviction, NACDL examined the collateral consequences of conviction that affect virtually every human endeavor, including education. A 2013 meta-analysis conducted by the RAND Corporation found that incarcerated individuals who participated in correctional education programs had 43 percent lower odds of recidivating than individuals who did not participate.
Take Action: President Obama has “Banned the Box” – Tell Congress to do the same!

NACDL was one of many organizations and individuals who sent a letter to President Obama urging him to take executive action to "Ban the Box" in federal employment hiring practices. In November, he did just that! President Obama announced a number of re-entry measures for formerly incarcerated individuals, including directing the Office of Personal Management (OPM) to take action to "Ban the Box" in federal employment hiring practices, delaying inquiries into criminal history until later in the hiring process. The Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs reported S. 2021, the Fair Chance to Compete for Jobs Act of 2015, favorably from the committee. This legislation would go a step further by requiring federal contractors to "Ban the Box" as well. NACDL signed onto the coalition letter in support of S. 2021.

Contact your senator today and urge them to support S. 2021! 

NACDL Praises New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's "Historic" Categorical Pardon Affecting Thousands of Non-Violent, Former Teenage Offenders

On December 21, the Office of New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo officially announced a plan to pardon many thousands of people who were convicted of a misdemeanor or a non-violent felony at the age of 16 or 17, but who have had no other convictions since. The criteria that applicants must meet are provided here. By this action, thousands of individuals stand to have multiple, significant barriers to successful re-entry into the community removed.

"[This] dramatic action by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is a tremendous victory for all who have been fighting for criminal justice reform, and in particular those who have worked tirelessly to shine the light on the myriad ways in which criminal convictions erect often insurmountable barriers to re-entry — including housing, employment, and education, among countless other areas," said E.G. "Gerry" Morris, President of NACDL. "In its sweeping restoration of rights and status, the Governor's wholesale pardon initiative will go a long way toward opening doors for those who committed offenses during these formative years of adolescence, a developmental stage that the Supreme Court in recent decisions has expressly acknowledged makes youthful offenders different. The President and other states' governors should take a cue from Governor Cuomo's action today."

"Governor Cuomo's decision to issue this categorical pardon is an historic breakthrough in the national movement to promote the restoration of rights," said NACDL Executive Director Norman L. Reimer. "It is a major step forward in the effort to combat the life-altering consequences of a criminal conviction and will serve as a model for governors throughout the nation. As importantly, it reinvigorates the pardon power as an integral and apolitical component of a rational and humane criminal justice system that balances public safety with mercy and forgiveness."

Read more here.

Down to the Wire: Lock in Your Savings on Life Membership!

There will never be a better time to become a Life Member of NACDL! You can lock in the current rate by making the first of five yearly $1,000 installments, or a one-time payment of $5,000. If you have ever thought of upgrading your membership… now is the time to do it. Beginning January 7, 2016, a new Life Membership will cost $6,500.

Call: The Membership Hotline now to upgrade your membership! (202) 872-4001.

Questions: Contact Michael Connor, membership director, at (202) 465-7654 or mconnor@nacdl.org.

Visit:http://www.nacdl.org/lifememberupgrade for more information, or to download the Life Membership Form.

See Also: What members say about the value of Life Membership at http://www.nacdl.org/LifeMembershipValue/.

NACDL 2016 Election Notice
NACDL's 2016 election will commence in the coming weeks. Individuals interested in running for officer positions or for the board of directors should consult www.nacdl.org/elections. Deadlines and procedures will be posted there by January 1.
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Support the Foundation for Criminal Justice While Completing Your Holiday Shopping
The holidays are just around the corner. You can shop for those last-minute gifts on Amazon and support the Foundation for Criminal Justice by using AmazonSmile. Amazon donates 0.5% of eligible purchases to the FCJ whenever you shop on AmazonSmile and select the FCJ as your supported organization. Click here to finish your gift list and support a great cause!

In Other News

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Recent Updates to Restoration of Rights Project
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