#FreeJohnLofton A Cause for His Clemency

#FreeJohnLofton A Cause for His Clemency

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Eric Hunter started this petition to Illinois Prisoner Review Board and

Obtaining an associate degree is highly commendable. Fighting and proving victorious over thyroid cancer is worth a new lease on life. In addition to these virtuous endeavors that require inner strength, humility and persistence John Lofton holds and excels at his work opportunities. He has done all this while incarcerated as part of taking a plea deal on the grounds of distributing cannabis. 

Why is the State of Illinois allowed to sell marijuana as a viable stream of revenue, but black men are still incarcerated for the same action?

Thirty years. In 2004, John re-entered the prison system of Illinois to begin a sentence of (30) years for cannabis distribution. That’s right: thirty years for being in possession of a substance that is now legally used and distributed for both medicinal and recreational purposes. John was embattled with a decision to either snitch or accept the fate given him per an unbalanced justice system.

Where there is no balance there is no justice.

“Studies have shown that people of color are more likely to be arrested and punished in connection with the drug, which critics say perpetuates a cycle of poverty and incarceration by holding them back from getting jobs or finding housing." (Alene Tchekmedyian and contributor Joseph Serna, Los Angeles Times)

10,950 days is the time Lofton has been sentenced. Nearly 5, 475 of those days have been served. Now, Lofton is due to be considered for release from the state penitentiary of Illinois. With your help, this petition can not only raise awareness of the futile persistence of draconian sentencing but also give a father, a grandfather, an uncle and factory worker the opportunity to be present in the lives of those who love him. His children are ages 35, 33, 31 and 17 years old.

Governor Pritzker and policymakers alike need to recognize the necessity of acquiring better results from correctional facilities because we elected them to acquire better results for the public at large. What more atonement can incarceration serve the Associate of Liberal Studies we know as John Lofton?

"I've discussed with John the opportunity to learn accounting software and merge his passion for mathematics with finance/accounting to further expand his skill set and build a foundation to manage his own financial portfolio... John has a great future ahead of him because he's genuinely changed and he now values right choices over financial gain." - Andrea F.

Let’s take heed to the fact that Lofton was charged with a non-violent crime. Let us consider the progress and reform our laws regarding marijuana have undergone. We implore you to sign this petition understanding that you will be giving a man who was born, raised and made do with what he had in the Southside of Chicago a chance to enjoy what many years he has left in this life. If granted clemency, John will not return to the crime-plagued neighborhood of the Southside; instead he will move with his girlfriend in California where a host of new friends and stable resources await him. 

"...Uncle John has changed the facts about himself. He actively reached out to his children to be there for them emotionally; giving them advice on making better (right) decisions." - Colson L. 

Not only is Lofton an admittedly changed man, the guy is a well-read book worm. If granted this clemency, Lofton will enter the workforce with a bulk of transferable skills that professionals would equate to the likes of a Chief of Operations. In addition to rekindling the relationships among his immediate family members, the re-entry plan being presented to the prisoner review board describes several means for Lofton to give back to society therein securing a continuation of atoning for his past transgression. 

A 2011 Pew Study in collaboration with the Association of State Correctional Administrators examined the practices that proved successful in reducing the rate of recidivism and these strategies included “sophisticated risk assessments, meticulous reentry planning and post-release supervision” that is carefully “tailored to each offender’s circumstance” (State of Recidivism: The Revolving Door of America’s Prisons. 2011, April.)

Illinois did, in fact, decrease its rate of recidivism over the course of nearly a decade, however it has been very small: 0.1%...  John's re-entry plan, the support waiting to welcome him home and his personal transformation embolden his clemency as an exit rather than a revolving door. 

"Over the years it seems that John has gone from a lack of family and friend support to a well-rounded, highly-educated, diverse support group. I personally am committed to helping John be successful in life and in a future career... I feel deeply that John deserves clemency..." - David L., MBA

How long do our fathers have to be punished for being raised in communities that lacked viable social resources and positive influence? How long will we allow intelligent, non-violent scholars loiter in the state corridors of systemic, recidivistic incarceration? How much longer does John Lofton need to serve as an inmate for being in possession of something that is now a legal commodity? The answer is no longer.

"It was clear that he was a strategist, logistically skilled, tenacious, money savvy and a natural born leader, to name a few. These skills along with his academic excellence, that was overshadowed by his illegal activity, meant he had more than enough skills to be successful as a law-abiding citizen." - Tracy L. 

Let’s #FreeJohnLofton and bring draconian sentencing for non-violent offenders on the grounds of outdated statutes surrounding marijuana to an end. This reform is long overdue and so is John’s release. Will you join us by signing this petition?


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At 1,000 signatures, this petition is more likely to be featured in recommendations!