In his continuing effort of granting clemency to nonviolent drug offenders President Barack Obama commuted the sentences of 46 men and women, “nearly all of whom would have already served their time and returned to society if they were convicted of the exact same crime today,” according to his press release on July 13, 2015.
In a White House video released that day, Obama said that as a former Assistant U.S. Attorney and criminal defense attorney, he is”well acquainted with how federal sentencing practices” have created in too many instances“unduly harsh sentences” that have lead nonviolent drug offenders to spend decades, if not life, in prison.
And he added that “many people are justly punished for causing harm and perpetuating violence in our communities. But, in some cases, the punishment required by law far exceeded the offense.”
These unduly harsh sentences are one of the reasons the President said he is “committed to using all the tools at his disposal to remedy unfairness in our criminal justice system.”
Raw footage of legal, mental health and prison experts talking to professional and student journalists about how the courts, detention, prison and probation systems impact individuals and communities snared by violence during the Violence and Criminal Justice “speed dating” event, co-hosted by Community Media Workshop and Strengthening Chicago’s Youth Lurie Children’s Hospital program, at Columbia College on April 17, 2014.
In U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder’s weekly video message earlier today, he announced new criteria that will allow more drug offenders in the federal prison system petition to have their sentences reduced by U.S. President Barack Obama.
Holder said the Department of Justice is also preparing to assign prosecution and defense lawyers to review the petitioners’ applications.
And he added that later this week, U.S. Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole will announce “more specific details about the expanded criteria the department will use and the logistical effort underway to ensure proper reviews of the anticipated wave of applications”