From Ring of Fire
Earlier this week, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that it would release expanded criteria by which non-violent drug offenders will be granted clemency. The DOJ released that criteria yesterday. Deputy Attorney General James Cole announced the new criteria yesterday as an extension of the “Smart on Crime” initiative that was announced last year.
The criteria will focus on inmates who were incarcerated for crack offenses before President Obama signed the 2010 Fair Sentencing Act. This criteria is important because the inmates it seeks to release are serving long prison sentences for simple drug possession charges. Ultimately, the DOJ has decided that the harsh punishments handed to these inmates don’t fit the crime. Why imprison someone who isn’t an immediate threat to society?
In order for inmates to be granted clemency, they must meet six requirements imposed by the DOJ:
1) inmates who are currently 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 today;
2) are non-violent, low-level offenders without significant ties to large-scale criminal organizations, gangs, or cartels;
3) have served at least 10 years of their sentence;
4) do not have a significant criminal history;
5) have demonstrated good conduct in prison; and
6) have no history of violence prior to or during their current term of imprisonment.
“We are launching this clemency initiative in order to quickly and effectively identify appropriate candidates, candidates who have a clean prison record, do not present a threat to public safety, and were sentenced under out-of-date laws that have since been changed, and are no longer seen as appropriate,” said Cole.
This clemency is the latest initiative spawned by Eric Holder’s address to overhaul the country’s prosecution of non-violent drug offenders. Alongside clemency, the DOJ plans include lightening mandatory minimum sentencing for nonviolent drug offenders.
The United States incarcerates 25 percent of the world’s criminals and spends billions of dollars annually on the long-running, stalemated war on drugs. The inmates who will be granted clemency deserve to be released as they have fallen victim to criminal justice system of old, with it’s “draconian mandatory minimum sentences.”