Late last year, President Obama chose to commute the sentences of eight individuals who had served a minimum of 15 years imprisonment for federal offenses involving crack cocaine. This action followed an announcement in August of last year made by Attorney General Eric Holder, who instructed the Justice Department to stop seeking overly-severe mandatory sentences for individuals charged with low-level federal drug charges if those individuals have no connections to large-scale drug operations or gangs.
Both of these actions were significant. However, they did little to mitigate the experiences of other low-level federal drug offenders currently serving overly-long sentences. Thankfully, a new Obama administration initiative may provide reasons for these inmates to hope.
According to the Washington Post, the White House is now calling for the early release of more nonviolent, low-level federal drug offenders serving overly-long sentences. In a statement to the Criminal Justice Section of the New York State Bar Association, Deputy Attorney General James Cole acknowledged that overly-long sentences for low-level and nonviolent federal drug offenders harm the criminal justice system.
He then called upon defense lawyers to identify which offenders may be candidates for clemency. He asked defense attorneys to put forth the names of imprisoned offenders who have, “a clean record in prison, (do) not present a threat to public safety, and who (are) facing a life or near-life sentence that is excessive under current law — with the opportunity to get a fresh start.”
If you know of a candidate that may be eligible for clemency, please contact an attorney experienced in handling federal criminal drug offenses specifically.
Source: The Washington Post, “U.S. to push for early release of more federal prisoners,” Sari Horwitz, Jan. 30, 2014