Thursday, January 30, 2014

Clemency for Low-Level Drug Offenders Is a Good Start

Lest we forget: This triumvirate of Republicans began the law-and-order
movement that many have come to regret, as the U.S. began to lead the world
in imprisonment. Democrats, fearful of being labeled "soft on crime," got tough
and stayed tough to get elected. But it started with Goldwater, Reagan, and Nixon.

Unwinding years of law-and-order mania -- some of which was racist in its implications -- is a good start for an Obama Justice Department that's been good and evil by fits and starts. Today, with its initiative to solicit candidates for clemency, they make a move in the right direction:
WASHINGTON — The Obama administration, in its effort to curtail severe penalties in low-level drug cases, is taking the unprecedented step of encouraging defense lawyers to suggest inmates whom the president might let out of prison early.
Speaking at a New York State Bar Association event Thursday, Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole said the Justice Department wanted to send more names to White House for clemency consideration.
“This is where you can help,” he said, in remarks the Justice Department circulated in advance.
Prison officials will also spread the word among inmates that low-level, nonviolent drug offenders might be eligible to apply for clemency.
The clemency drive is part of the administration’s effort to undo sentencing discrepancies that began during the crack epidemic decades ago. Offenses involving crack, which was disproportionately used in black communities, carried more severe penalties than crimes involving powder cocaine, which was usually favored by affluent white users.
Let's hope this is imitated at the state level. Years of mismanagement and misjudgement, coupled with sheer cruelty and injustice under the guise of "tough on crime," have left scars not just on Americans but most especially on African-Americans.

More like this, Obama.

Low-level, non-violent drug offenders don't belong here. (And we can't afford it.)

No comments:

Post a Comment