Washington, D.C. (July 13, 2015) -- President Barack Obama commuted the sentences of 46 prisoners today, 4 of whom were early applicants who had their petitions reviewed and supported by Clemency Project 2014.
"It's heartening to see President Obama using his constitutional clemency powers for the good of nonviolent federal prisoners who received excessively long sentences," said Cynthia Roseberry, director of Clemency Project 2014.
"Yet, many non-violent prisoners are still serving unduly harsh prison terms based on repudiated laws and policies. That means we have quite a bit of work ahead, as do the Office of the Pardon Attorney, the Deputy Attorney General, and the White House. This is an all-hands-on-deck situation."
"We are delighted to see a more than doubling of the number of commutations granted since the last time President Obama issued grants in March. We are optimistic that over the next 18 months, those numbers will continue to grow," said Theodore Simon, President of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, a partner organization in Clemency Project 2014.
Clemency Project 2014, an unprecedented, independent effort by the nation’s bar, has brought in more than 1,500 volunteer lawyers from diverse practice backgrounds and screened more than 13,000 of the more than 30,000 federal prisoners who have applied. Lawyers hailing from more than 50 of the nation's largest and most prestigious law firms and law clinics, leading not-for-profit organizations, and the criminal defense bar are answering the call made last year by former Deputy Attorney General James Cole before the New York State Bar Association. Cole announced that the Obama administration would consider commuting the prison sentences of non-violent offenders who had received severe prison sentences and who would, were they sentenced today, likely have received significantly lower sentences under current sentencing law and policy. He appealed to the legal profession to provide free assistance to help identify eligible prisoners and assist them in the preparation of clemency petitions.
According to the criteria released by the Department of Justice, prisoners must:
- currently be serving a federal sentence in prison and, by operation of law, likely would have received a substantially lower sentence if convicted of the same offense(s) today;
- be non-violent, low-level offenders without significant ties to large-scale criminal organizations, gangs, or cartels;
- have served at least 10 years of their sentence;
- have no significant criminal history;
- have demonstrated good conduct in prison; and
- have no history of violence prior to or during their current term of imprisonment.
For more information and to volunteer for Clemency Project 2014, please visit www.clemencyproject2014.org.
The American Bar Association, the American Civil Liberties Union, Families Against Mandatory Minimums, the Federal Public and Community Defenders, and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers have joined together under a working group they call Clemency Project 2014. Through the efforts of Clemency Project 2014, the participating organizations are identifying potential clemency petitioners and recruiting and training volunteer lawyers to assist them in securing clemency.
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