It’s been a sticking point with the Obama administration for many years, they look to be finally moving forward on it.
One of the campaign promises that you hear from a Democratic presidential candidate is to gradually decline the prison population through the release of nonviolent offenders. Yet it’s an issue very few of them actually tackle.
Which if you think about, makes a lot of sense.
Even though multiple studies have shown that softening sentences on nonviolent offenders does lessen stress on the prison system, it does leave politicians susceptible to something like this…
Just ask Michael Dukakis, no candidate wants to be Willie Horton-ed. That’s why for most Democrats, they drop the “sentencing of nonviolent offenders” issue once they reach office. For many years, President Obama looked to be on a similar path with making promises of reducing sentences for nonviolent offenders, then doing nothing about it once he reached office.
That changed yesterday.
On Monday President Obama commuted the sentences of 46 nonviolent drug offenders in an effort to start easing nonviolent criminals out of the federal prison system. The Obama administration’s stance on these commutes is simple; when these individuals were jailed years ago the sentencing system was very different than it is today. The administration thinks commuting their sentences would be fair since these individuals are serving longer sentences than if they were to be tried today for the same crime.
The profiles of the 46 individuals read basically the same. The entire list pertains of individuals that were either tried for the conspiracy to distribute or the actual distribution of narcotics. In other words, they were essentially low-level drug dealers with a nonviolent past. It has been reported that more than 35,000 inmates have registered for early release under the new initiative. Considering the complex review system and the insane number of applications, it will take a while for the government to get through all the applications.
For those that don’t know, commutes aren’t the same as presidential pardons. A commute is the type of executive clemency that allows an individual to cut off their sentence – aka jail time – but doesn’t absolve them of the crime itself. On top of that, liberties that most citizens enjoy like owning a fire arm, participating in juries, or in some states having the right to vote are also revoked due to the original sentence. A pardon on the other hand has the same effect a commute has, but doesn’t take away the liberties that were mentioned before.
Basically a pardon is the Willie Wonka-esque golden ticket of executive clemencies.