Washington, DC (Oct. 7, 2016) – Today, the working group known as Clemency Project 2014, which was formed by National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL), the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM), the American Bar Association (ABA), and the Federal Public and Community Defenders, achieves an historic milestone, submitting its 2,000th petition to the Office of the Pardon Attorney.
Clemency Project 2014 is an unprecedented and wholly independent pro bono effort by the nation's bar that has answered the Department of Justice's call for the bar to offer free assistance to potential petitioners. Through volunteering with the Project, and with the aid of volunteer representatives of the partner organizations and a small paid staff, thousands of attorneys from a wide variety of practice areas—not just criminal defense—have received detailed training, screened tens of thousands of requests for assistance, engaged in complex factual and legal research, and, as of today, will have submitted over 2,000 petitions for clemency. The petitions are 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.
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: "The Project, along with its support from FCJ, epitomizes the mission of the Foundation, including promoting fair sentencing practices for anyone convicted of crime. The nearly all-volunteer initiative has worked tirelessly to train lawyers, process requests from those seeking assistance, and take on countless hours of legwork to locate materials. Surpassing 2,000 submitted petitions is a testament to their determination. It exemplifies the highest commitment to public service and represents the legal profession at its best."
Since the inception of Clemency Project 2014, NACDL has provided critical infrastructure and has donated thousands of hours of staff support. NACDL President Barry J. Pollack said, "Clemency Project 2014 reflects NACDL's values and its commitment to serve as 'Liberty's Last Champion.'" He noted that "This remarkable pro bono effort by criminal defense lawyers and other members of the bar has now helped 2,000 federal prisoners in their efforts to secure freedom from draconian sentences. I am incredibly proud of NACDL's role in this project and the historic results it has already achieved."
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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 justice system.