Sunday, February 17, 2008

The President: Request is reporting on the clemency application of a man from Maine who has served 14 years of a 20 year sentence for selling cocaine and heroin to a friend who was found dead the next day of a drug overdose. Although he accepts responsibility for his actions, Lance Persson also believes that his sentence is the unreasonable outcome of inflexible federal sentencing guidelines. Indeed, he was the first person in Maine to be charged by the U.S. Attorney's Office under a then-new law mandating stiff penalties for people who sell drugs to users who later die from them. Throughout his years in prison, the 38-year old has focused on self-improvement and helping others. He practices Buddhism and is completing a second college degree. On top of all of that, his petition is supported by George W. Bush's aunt, Nancy Bush Ellis, a summer resident of Kennebunkport who attends the Methodist church in which Persson was raised. On the other hand, the mother of Michael Corey opposes a pardon or a shortened sentence for the man who sold the drugs that helped kill her son. See full story here and here.

NOTE: As it happens, I have additional information which suggests that the prosecuting attorney in Persson's case believes a commutation is "warranted" and also believes that it is "unclear" whether the government could "sustain" the burden of proof that would be upon it were the case tried by today's standards. An individual who has been involved in prison ministries for more than 28 years - and has never before supported an application for clemency - says there is "no benefit" in keeping Persson in prison any longer as he has "matured, undergone redemption and has been transformed." This past July, the pastor of his home town church asked Lance to write an essay on "Freedom" to be used during services. Its presentation can be heard here. If the case interests you further, you may also want to visit

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