Petitioning President Barack Obama and 1 other

FREE LOW LEVEL AND NONVIOLENT DRUG OFFENDERS AND POLITICAL PRISONERS

Dear President Obama:

            We ask you to assume a position of moral prominence in American history and do the following: (1) issue a blanket commutation of federal sentences for all low level and nonviolent drug offenses to time served; (2) commute all federally imposed death sentences to life in prison; (3) commute to time served the sentences of all federally convicted individuals imprisoned for their militant or political opposition to American injustice; and (4) urge Congress to repeal the “Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996”, the “Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986”, and the “Prison Litigation Reform Act”, three of the enactments that paved the way for the mass incarceration of about two million Americans.  As you already know, the “Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offenses against the United States” was embedded in the Constitution as a power reserved for the president.  Thus, your clemency power is not simply a privilege, but a responsibility that must be exercised when necessary.

            However, the Obama administration used its clemency powers far less than previous presidents.[1]  Why be so timid?  History would be on your side if you used your clemency authority for tens of thousands of federal prisoners, especially the estimated 94,000 nonviolent and low level drug offenders as well as twenty-nine specific political prisoners[2], who remain incarcerated long after they received sufficient punishment for their alleged offenses.  After all, the United States cannot afford the cost of mass incarceration.

            As for public policy, Congress, because of your influence, reduced mandatory-minimums for newly imposed federal sentences.  Yet, thousands of inmates languish today in federal prison on mandatory-minimum sentences that U.S. district courts imposed years ago.  These prisoners should receive retroactive relief immediately from these draconian sentences.  After all, justice delayed on this issue is justice denied.  Moreover, in April 2014, the U.N. Human Rights Committee condemned America’s racially bigoted death penalty and its racially disparate incarceration rates. [3]  Accordingly, we ask you to do the following: (1) issue a blanket commutation for all low level federal drug offenders and all nonviolent federal drug offenders to time served; (2) commute all federally imposed death sentences to life in prison; (3) commute to time served the sentences imposed on all federally convicted political prisoners from the black liberation movement, the American Indian Movement, the Puerto Rican liberation movement, the antiwar movement, and other such groups or causes who politically opposed American injustice; and (4) urge the repeal of the “Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996”, the “Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986”, and the “Prison Litigation Reform Act”.  In other words, use the powers vested in you as a step towards undoing the mass incarceration of American citizens.

Sincerely,

Citizens Against Mass Incarceration


[1] See http://www.justice.gov/pardon/clemency-statistics


[2] The twenty-nine political prisoners may be identified as follows: Warren Ballentine, Jeffrey Leon Battle, Brandon Baxter, John Borrell III, Veronza Bowers, Barrett Brown, Byron Shane Chubbuck, William Dunn, Patrice Ford, Jeff Fort, Beaumont Gereau, Jeremy Hammond, Larry Hoover, Jaan Laaman, Chelsea Manning, Thomas Manning, Marie Mason, Melvin Mayes, Tarek Mehanna, Leonard Peltier, Oscar Lopez, Rebecca Rubin, Mutulu Shakur, Aafia Siddiqui, Merel Smith, Justin Solondz, Joshua Stafford, Connor Stevens, and Douglas Wright


[3] Concluding Observations on the Fourth Periodic Report of the United States of America, U.N. Human Rights Comm. (110th Session), CCPR/C/USA/CO/4 (April 23, 2014) as published at: https://www.aclu.org/sites/default/files/assets/concluding_observations_on_u.s._fourth_periodic_report.pdf

Letter to
President Barack Obama
U.S. Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch
FREE LOW LEVEL AND NONVIOLENT DRUG OFFENDERS AND POLITICAL PRISONERS