#ClemencyNOW asks President Obama to deliver on clemency promises

obama-header2As Congress continues to debate pending justice reform legislation, #cut50 is launching a new national campaign: #ClemencyNOW.

#ClemencyNOW is urging President Obama to fulfill a promise he made to grant clemency to thousands of people languishing in federal prison for nonviolent drug offenses.

In April of 2014, President Obama introduced a historic initiative to release people serving overly harsh and racially-biased prison sentences resulting from a failed drug war. But after two years, the sluggish pace of reviews threatens to leave many deserving men and women behind bars when the President leaves office in January.

“We are grateful to President Obama for his historic promise to restore some fairness and balance through executive action,” said Van Jones, co-founder of #cut50. “The clemency criteria is already very narrow. It would be a tragedy if this important and well-intentioned effort came up short. We call upon President Obama to adjust and accelerate the strategy to ensure he can deliver.”

#ClemencyNOW is asking the President to triple the resources dedicated to his clemency initiative. The campaign is also asking the President to issue an Executive Order placing the Office of the Pardon Attorney within the White House, reporting directly to the President — eliminating unnecessary, multi-level bureaucratic review.

Between now and January, #ClemencyNOW will organize celebrities, advocates, academics, and those directly impacted by the incarceration industry to spotlight the people, family members and communities that are all counting on the President.

Working with Clemency Project 2014, #ClemencyNOW will also recruit and organize volunteer lawyers to process remaining clemency applications to ensure the President has a petition submitted by every person who may be eligible.

“There are lives to save, and the clock is ticking,” said Brittany K. Byrd, #ClemencyNOW Campaign Manager. “Every clemency petition represents a living and breathing person who is hoping for a second chance, as well as their family members, friends, and communities. Many of these people, like Corey Jacobs, are serving life without parole sentences under an outdated sentencing regime. Without clemency, Corey and hundreds like him will die in prison.”

“It’s time for President Obama to pull out all stops to make sure his final justice initiative succeeds,” concluded Jessica Jackson, National Director of #cut50. “If he sticks with the present strategy and timeline, hundreds if not thousands of worthy people will remain stuck behind bars — despite the goals he set and the promises he made.”

As part of President Obama’s clemency initiative, his Department of Justice issued guidelines to release nonviolent drug offenders who: have been in prison at least 10 years; have not committed violent crimes; and have no significant history of criminal activity.

The initiative has granted more clemencies than the past 9 presidents combined, to a total of 562 deserving individuals. But at least several hundred more fit the criteria for safe release. And for them, time is running out.

Read more about the campaign at cut50.org/ClemencyNOW.


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