1. Welcome! Please take a few seconds to create your free account to post threads, make some friends, remove a few ads while surfing and much more. ClutchFans has been bringing fans together to talk Houston Sports since 1996. Join us!

President Obama to Pardon/Commute "Hundreds, Perhaps Thousands" of Nonviolent Drug Offenders

Discussion in 'BBS Hangout: Debate & Discussion' started by KingCheetah, Apr 22, 2014.

  1. KingCheetah

    KingCheetah Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2002
    Messages:
    55,559
    Likes Received:
    47,036
    President Obama to Pardon/Commute "Hundreds, Perhaps Thousands" of Nonviolent Drug Offenders

    It appears that President Obama is poised to grant clemency to a substantial number of people thrown in jail as a result of asinine "mandatory minimum" sentences imposed on non-violent drug offenders during the last twenty-thirty years.

    Obama...wants to use his previously dormant pardon power as part of a larger strategy to restore fairness to the criminal-justice system. A senior administration official tells Yahoo News the president could grant clemency to "hundreds, perhaps thousands" of people locked up for nonviolent drug crimes by the time he leaves office — a stunning number that hasn't been seen since Gerald Ford extended amnesty to Vietnam draft dodgers in the 1970s.

    The scope of the new clemency initiative is so large that administration officials are preparing a series of personnel and process changes to help them manage the influx of petitions they expect Obama to approve. Among the changes is reforming the recently censured office within the Justice Department responsible for processing pardon petitions. Yahoo News has learned that the pardon attorney, Ronald Rodgers, who was criticized in a 2012 Internal watchdog report for mishandling a high-profile clemency petition, is likely to step down as part of that overhaul. Additional procedures for handling large numbers of clemency petitions could be announced as soon as this week, a senior administration official said, though it could take longer.

    Attorney General Eric Holder confirmed today that "at the request of the White House," the criteria for clemency consideration would be expanded with new guidelines to be issued this week (see also Meteor Blades' post here). The link to the Justice Department's video message can be found here.

    From a personal perspective, the inanity of these draconian laws has become all too apparent to me as I've grown into middle age. Nearly all of my friends in college and high school during the late 70's and 80's were drug users. Most at one point or another in their late teens or early twenties would have been in possession of amounts of illegal drugs sufficient to have resulted in their incarceration for years if not decades under "mandatory minimum" statutes. The following is a list of just a few of their current professions:

    State Representative
    Colorectal surgeon
    Environmental scientist
    Psychologist
    Attorney (several)
    CEO of multimillion dollar government contractor
    English Professor
    Computer programmer, nuclear facility
    Chief Attending Physician, ER, major Philadelphia hospital
    Realtor

    These people are not only pillars of their communities, they are their communities. None of them has committed an offense against the public. All of them have stable families and coach their kids' Little League teams, along with all the other former drug user parents sitting in the stands and volunteering for the PTA. Alternatively, each one of these people could be rotting in jail at the taxpayers' expense, contributing absolutely nothing to humanity (or the country, for that matter), their lives and futures effectively nullified.

    The last three Presidents have been admitted drug users. Wikipedia has even compiled a list of admitted cannabis users in the U.S. Congress and Senate. Based on sheer statistical odds, at least 50% of the current makeup of Congress and the Senate are likely former or current users of illegal drugs. The real figure is probably quite higher. A complete overhaul of these insane, discriminatory, antiquated, reactionary drug laws is long, long past overdue. Many states are beginning to take the hint, as has the Justice Department. However, the Presidential Pardon power would be the most visible manifestation of the need to get rid of these laws.

    The number of clemencies authorized by this Administration has up to this point been abysmal. Beyond his support for the Fair Sentencing Act, signed into law in 2010, which reduced the racially-motivated disparity between sentences involving "crack" vs powder cocaine users, Obama's efforts to reduce the inequities meted out to nonviolent offenders has been relatively non-existent. According to a study by ProPublica:

    [Obama] has given pardons to roughly 1 of every 50 individuals whose applications were processed by the Justice Department. At this point in his presidency, Ronald Reagan had pardoned 1 of every 3 such applicants. George H.W. Bush had pardoned 1 in 16. Bill Clinton had pardoned 1 in 8. George W. Bush had pardoned 1 in 33.

    The Yahoo News article linked above clearly shows that the Administration was well aware of how poorly this issue was being handled, but it wasn't until shortly before the end of his first term that the President began to pay serious attention to the issue. Whether that was his own fault or that of his advisors isn't crystal clear but the most than be charitably gleaned from the article is that the pace of change has been glacial up to this point, and riven by internal feuding. The most recent initiative grew out of discussions between Obama, the White House Counsel and the Justice Department and it now appears (hopefully) that the number of commutations and pardons will increase dramatically.

    According to former and current administration officials, the fault for this lay mostly at the feet of the Office of the Pardon Attorney, a small corner of the Justice Department that sifts through thousands of pardon and commutation petitions each year. The pardon attorney, former military judge Ronald Rodgers, sends his recommendations of whether or not to grant the petitions to the Deputy Attorney General’s office, which then sends them on to the White House. The pardon attorney was recommending that the president deny nearly every single petition for a pardon or a reduced sentence, according to one senior official in the Obama administration

    The article suggests that the Pardon Office, responsible for vetting and recommending individual cases to the President, had an entrenched history of stonewalling and at the outset of the Obama Administration appeared to focus on wealthy, well-connected and largely white offenders. According to the article, Rodgers, a Justice "holdover" from the Bush Administration, will be stepping down shortly, in part as a result of an internal Justice Department inquiry into his ineffectiveness. It can't be soon enough.

    From Anthony Papa of the Drug Policy Alliance:

    “This would be a positive step toward righting the wrongs of our broken criminal justice system,” said Anthony Papa, Media Relations Manager for the Drug Policy Alliance, who was granted clemency in New York State in 1997 after serving 12 years under the notorious Rockefeller Drug Laws. “I hope governors with the same power at the state level follow his lead and reunite more families.”

    “With half a million people still behind bars on non-violent drug charges, clearly thousands are deserving of a second chance. Congress should act immediately to reduce the draconian federal mandatory minimum sentences that condemn thousands to decades behind bars for non-violent drug offenses,” added Papa.

    link
     
  2. False

    False Member

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2011
    Messages:
    571
    Likes Received:
    99
    Unfortunately for those people who might get pardons or commuted sentences the damage has already been done in their lives and the stigma has already attached. Your friends were lucky - they likely skewed more well-off financially, were likely were less ethnic looking, and were less likely to live in areas in which cops would be so zealously trying to look for drug offenders. Just thinking about all the possibilities and opportunities destroyed makes me feel a bit depressed.

    It could be a good step, but this move is not enough. It is sort of like stabbing someone with a knife and then pulling it out and saying "see all better." We shouldn't have stabbed them to begin with. On average, the lives of these people and the lives and the lives of many of their family members have been wrecked, permanently. At the minimum we need to also expend additional resources working hard to get patch the wound up and getting these people back on their feet because, if we don't, they'll likely end up back where they were.
     
  3. gifford1967

    gifford1967 Contributing Member
    Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2003
    Messages:
    7,981
    Likes Received:
    3,768
    That is one of the worst "seeing the glass half empty" posts I have ever read.
     
  4. Johndoe804

    Johndoe804 Member

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2010
    Messages:
    3,233
    Likes Received:
    147
    Good. Another thing I would applaud the President on. Of course, I still wouldn't have voted for him, but that's not saying much because I didn't vote.
     
  5. itstheyear3030

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2013
    Messages:
    381
    Likes Received:
    28
    That's a terrible analogy. We didn't "stab" these people for no reason; they were in possession of or were dealing illegal drugs. Furthermore, most people who are slammed by mandatory minimums are slammed because they are repeat offenders; judges and prosecutors usually have enough leeway to massage the rules away for people that legitimately don't deserve to be so harshly punished.

    I'm not saying the rules are not draconian, and I don't necessarily disagree with Obama's decision, but please don't act like these people are faultless. It is certainly not as easy as you make it sound to justify spending additional resources rehabilitating these people.
     
  6. mtbrays

    mtbrays Contributing Member
    Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2007
    Messages:
    7,590
    Likes Received:
    6,291
    The ballot box is this way ------->

    Once you vote, feel free to grab a sticker and join the adults in their conversation. Until then, your opinion on government, policy and representation is moot.
     
  7. Johndoe804

    Johndoe804 Member

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2010
    Messages:
    3,233
    Likes Received:
    147
    **** you, *******. In my opinion, you're a douchebag. Not voting doesn't make my opinion any more or less valid than yours.
     
  8. ThatBoyNick

    ThatBoyNick Member

    Joined:
    Dec 8, 2011
    Messages:
    28,162
    Likes Received:
    43,087
    <iframe width="560" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/FONN-0uoTHI" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>
     
  9. mtbrays

    mtbrays Contributing Member
    Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2007
    Messages:
    7,590
    Likes Received:
    6,291
    If you only you cared as much about exercising your right to vote as you do about hurling profanities at me.

    How come you can't be bothered to participate in our basic electoral process? You know what has the power to change policy, representation and the daily lives of people that government affects? Voting. You know what people in this country have fought and died for? The right to vote.

    But only half of Americans actually vote. If voting your conscience was as popular as complaining about things we have the power to collectively change, America would be a much better, more representative place.

    The people enacting policies that don't benefit the majority of Americans depend on your apathy. If the majority of the country is too lazy to exercise a right that others in the world would die for, they can do whatever they want at our expense. There is power in voting and it's a damn shame that hardly anybody cares enough to cast their ballot.

    But, hey; you're posting on a basketball-related BBS. I'm sure your opinion will echo through the halls of Congress.
     
  10. Johndoe804

    Johndoe804 Member

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2010
    Messages:
    3,233
    Likes Received:
    147
    I've been extensively involved in the political process. I've campaigned, organized protests, media events, and engaged in fundraising. I know how it works, and I can, with all-encompassing confidence, tell you that the democratic functions of this government don't work. Voting is pointless when you don't really have a choice. You don't know me, and I take offense to pretentious douchebags that are so apt to debase the opinions of others and insult their knowledge, so **** you. That's why I'm apt to hurl profanities at you, because you deserve it.
     
    2 people like this.
  11. mtbrays

    mtbrays Contributing Member
    Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2007
    Messages:
    7,590
    Likes Received:
    6,291
    [​IMG]
     
    1 person likes this.
  12. Deckard

    Deckard Blade Runner
    Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2002
    Messages:
    56,693
    Likes Received:
    38,893
    Uh, returning to KC's topic, I think this is fantastic news! I hope the number is in the thousands. Will it be "complete justice?" No, of course not. As has been pointed out, so many of these people have already seen their lives ruined, but this is a hell of a lot better than having a president sitting at his desk until he leaves office, doing nothing except saying "Bummer!" when the subject comes up from a member of his/her staff.
     
  13. JuanValdez

    JuanValdez Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 1999
    Messages:
    34,013
    Likes Received:
    13,319
    I'm not a big fan of the all-my-friends-did-drugs-with-impunity-and-now-they-are-pillars-of-the-community argument. Nor am I quick to see the impending clemency petitioners as hapless victims after they knowingly broke the law (some of the laws may be dumb, but so are most motives for breaking them). But, I think a large-scale pardoning spree as a good idea, at least within certain parameters.
     
  14. Baba Booey

    Baba Booey Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2012
    Messages:
    2,516
    Likes Received:
    822
    We should let out every single non-violent minor drug offender and every prostitute as well. Then we should close down the private run prisons and house the real criminals in our now ample prison space.

    The private prisons make their money off of non-violent drug offenders though, so there will be plenty of pushback. Private prisons should be outlawed, in my opinion. It is one of the worst things we are doing as a nation. Private prisons get to cherry-pick their prisoners, so they don't take the prisoners with AIDS, or the prisoners that throw feces everyday or extremely dangerous gang members. This is how they keep the costs down compared to government run prisons. It's a total scam, and we are paying for it.

    Private run for-profit prisons make me sick.
     
    1 person likes this.
  15. Summer Song Giver

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2000
    Messages:
    6,330
    Likes Received:
    195
    Can't wait for this.

    "Prisoner who was once pardoned by President Obama drives drunk and kills family of four who were on their way to help at a feed the children with leukemia rally."
     
    1 person likes this.
  16. mc mark

    mc mark Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 1999
    Messages:
    26,195
    Likes Received:
    468
    Here it comes.

    Can republicans be more repugnant?

    Key Republican: Obama's New Clemency Initiative Proves He's Lawless

    "In an unprecedented move to dramatically expand the clemency process for federal drug offenders, President Obama has again demonstrated his blatant disregard for our nation's laws and our system of checks and balances embedded in the U.S. Constitution," Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA)
     
  17. FishBulb913

    FishBulb913 Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2003
    Messages:
    2,967
    Likes Received:
    460
    So you campaign.... but don't vote???? I don't get it.
     
  18. rudan

    rudan Member

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2006
    Messages:
    1,441
    Likes Received:
    65

    The sheer numbers gurantee that one of these guys will be involved with something bad after they are pardoned. God hope they do not hurt any democrat voters :rolleyes:
     
  19. rudan

    rudan Member

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2006
    Messages:
    1,441
    Likes Received:
    65
    He's either being trendy or he's ex-con. Either way, he gets very emotional about the subject.
     
  20. Invisible Fan

    Invisible Fan Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2001
    Messages:
    42,976
    Likes Received:
    24,968
    Meaningless PR move.
     

Share This Page