“A little less conversation, a little more action.” We hear your complaints. While there is movement on sentencing reform, it’s been a long, slow road (we’ve been at it since 1991!) and we’re ready for things to finally change. With your help, we have the power to turn the talk on Capitol Hill into action with the SAFE Justice Act.
On June 25, Representatives Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) and Bobby Scott (D-VA) introduced the Safe, Accountable, Fair, Effective (SAFE) Justice Act (H.R. 2944). This bill is massive, a whopping 144 pages long, and touches almost every single part of the federal criminal justice system, from trial to sentencing to life after release. This legislation would limit the application of federal drug mandatory minimum sentences to only the most high-level crime organizers and kingpins. Judges would have more flexibility to sentence people below mandatory minimum drug and gun possession offenses when the person has a minor record or the crime was driven by addiction or mental illness. It would also allow for federal prisoners to earn time off their sentences for good behavior and completing rehabilitative programming.
The best part: many of these reforms would be retroactive, affecting people who are already in prison, and reducing prison overcrowding and high prison costs for taxpayers.
Lawmakers know the criminal justice system is flawed from top to bottom. They recognize the injustice, and many speak out about it. But we want them to do more than talk, we want them to vote to change the system. They need to hear from you, their constituents. Tell your U.S. Representative to support the SAFE Justice Act today. The more members of Congress who support the bill, the more likely it is that we’ll get them to act on it this year!
Thanks for your support of our work and for telling Congress it’s time for action!
WASHINGTON – A Detroit man sentenced to life in prison on drug offenses in 1999 is among nearly four dozen federal inmates who had their sentences commuted today by President Barack Obama as being too harsh.
Patrick Roberts, 65, is currently incarcerated in a federal prison in Terre Haute, Ind., according to corrections records, and has lost several previous attempts to have his sentence reduced.
Federal court documents say he pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute heroin, cocaine and marijuana and was sentenced to life imprisonment, under rules which were in place at the time, because of his four prior drug convictions.
Obama today commuted the sentences of 46 federal prisoners convicted on drug charges, ordering their terms to end Nov. 10 of this year. Roberts’ was the only one from Michigan.
The president has issued nearly 90 commutations in all during his two terms in office, most of them to nonviolent offenders sentenced for drug crimes under old sentencing rules which, had the crimes been committed today, would have resulted in shorter sentences.
Click to view why the clock is running out on Obama’s clemency initiative…
The president sent each prisoner a letter confirming the commutation and asking each to make the most of the opportunity he or she was being given.
In a video message, Obama explained his decision, saying the inmates “were not hardened criminals but the overwhelming majority had been sentenced to at least 20 years.”
“Their punishments didn’t fit the crime,” Obama said in the message.
“I’ve made clear to them that re-entering society is going to require responsibility on their part and hard work and smarter choices,” the president continued. “But I believe that at it’s heart, America’s a nation of second chances and I believe these folks deserve their second chance.”
Koch urges Obama administration to speed up clemency program Billionaire supports prison reform-click to view..
Administration officials said they expect Obama will issue additional commutations and pardons before the end of his term in January 2017. On Tuesday, the president was also expected to discuss, in an address to the NAACP, ways of bringing “greater fairness to our criminal justice system while keeping our communities safe,” White House Counsel Neil Eggleston said in a blog post.
In a statement from the U.S. Justice Department, Deputy Attorney General Sally Quillian Yates said today’s commutations grew out of Obama’s request a year ago that the agency develop criteria for identifying prisoners who were nonviolent, low-level offenders who received overly harsh sentences.
“The President’s decision to commute the sentences of 46 more individuals today is another sign of our commitment to correcting these inequities,” she said.
April 7th 2015 :
President Obama commuted the sentences of 22 convicted federal prisoners Tuesday, shortening their sentences for drug-related crimes.
Eight of the prisoners who will have their sentences reduced were serving life sentences. All but one of the 22 will be released on July 28.
The White House said Obama made the move in order to grant to older prisoners the same leniency that would be given to people convicted of the same crimes today.
“Had they been sentenced under current laws and policies, many of these individuals would have already served their time and paid their debt to society,” White House Counsel Neil Eggleston said in a statement. “Because many were convicted under an outdated sentencing regime, they served years—in some cases more than a decade—longer than individuals convicted today of the same crime.”
In issuing the commutations Tuesday, Obama has more than doubled the number he’s granted in his presidency. Before Tuesday, he had issued just 21 and denied 7,378 commutations in his more than six years. It was the most commutations issued by a president in a single day since President Clinton issued 150 pardons and 40 commutations on his last day in office.
And it could represent the crest of a new wave of commutations that could come in Obama’s last two years in office. Last year, the Justice Department announced a new clemency initiative to try to encourage more low-level drug offenders to apply to have their sentences reduced. That resulted in a record 6,561 applications in the last fiscal year, at least two of which were granted commutations Tuesday, according to the Justice Department.
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