News Release

NACDL and the Foundation for Criminal Justice Applaud Clemency Project 2014; Historic Pro Bono Effort by Nation's Bar

Washington, DC (Jan. 19, 2017) – On his last full day in office, President Obama today announced 330 grants of commutation. Of today's 330 grants, 189 were in cases supported by Clemency Project 2014. That brings the total number of commutations granted by President Obama to 1,715, of which 894 were supported by Clemency Project 2014.

Clemency Project 2014 was an unprecedented and wholly independent pro bono effort by the nation's bar that has answered the Department of Justice's 2014 call for the bar to offer free assistance to potential petitioners. The Project recruited and trained nearly 4,000 volunteer lawyers from diverse practice backgrounds and completed screening of the more than 36,000 federal prisoners who requested volunteer assistance. The Project's painstaking review of these cases revealed that the overwhelming majority of those requests were by applicants who did not meet the criteria put forward by the Department of Justice in April 2014. Clemency Project 2014 submitted nearly 2,600 petitions to the Office of the Pardon Attorney. The petitions were submitted on behalf of non-violent federal prisoners who are serving long sentences that, given changes in federal law and policy, likely would not be imposed today.

Since the inception of Clemency Project 2014, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) has played a pivotal role. NACDL provided critical infrastructure and donated countless hours of staff support, along with the many members who provided pro bono service. NACDL President Barry J. Pollack said, "President Obama's actions have provided a measure of fairness to a system that had devastated the lives of so many people, their families, and their communities. The President would not have been able to accomplish this extraordinary outcome without the efforts of volunteer lawyers around the country. NACDL has been at the forefront of the unprecedented work of screening and submitting thousands of clemency petitions. As a lawyer and as president of the NACDL, I could not be more proud of NACDL, its staff, and the lawyers who volunteered their valuable time. President Obama and Clemency Project 2014 will long be remembered for promoting the cause of justice."

Gerald B. Lefcourt, President of the Foundation for Criminal Justice (FCJ), which was among the first to provide critical financial resources to establish Clemency Project 2014, said: "This Project embodies so much of what the FCJ is all about. It is with great pride that the Foundation beholds the incredible achievements over the past nearly three years since the inception of this singularly remarkable effort undertaken by the nation's bar. FCJ will continue to support the pursuit of fair sentencing for anyone accused of a crime, as well as other known and unknown challenges as we work together to preserve and promote the core values of America's justice system guaranteed by the Constitution."

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Ivan J. Dominguez, NACDL Director of Public Affairs & Communications, (202) 465-7662 or for more information.

The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers is the preeminent organization advancing the mission of the criminal defense bar to ensure justice and due process for persons accused of crime or wrongdoing. A professional bar association founded in 1958, NACDL's many thousands of direct members in 28 countries – and 90 state, provincial and local affiliate organizations totaling up to 40,000 attorneys – include private criminal defense lawyers, public defenders, military defense counsel, law professors and judges committed to preserving fairness and promoting a rational and humane criminal legal system.