Monday, November 24, 2008

Sentencing Project on Presidential Pardons

The following letter appears in today's Washington Post:

With just two months remaining in President Bush's term, more than 2,000 clemency applications await his decision. As the pardon attorney and the president expedite the processing of these cases, they should keep in mind their own guidelines for granting commutation, among them: "Appropriate grounds for considering commutation have traditionally included disparity or undue severity of sentence."

The U.S. Sentencing Commission lawmakers, judges and civil rights leaders agree that long mandatory sentences for crimes involving crack cocaine are unfair and lead to too many people being incarcerated for low-level drug offenses. Individuals seeking relief from these uniquely harsh penalties deserve the president's mercy.

Michael Short served 15 years of a nearly 20-year sentence for selling 63 grams of crack cocaine, about the weight of a candy bar, before he benefited from a presidential commutation this year. At a congressional hearing, U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton said, "Mr. Short's situation is not unique. And I think it's just a waste of the taxpayers' money to keep somebody like Mr. Short locked up for as long as he was locked up."Many more men and women like Mr. Short are seeking the president's mercy. For the sake of justice, I hope they receive it.

KARA GOTSCH, Director of Advocacy, The Sentencing Project, Washington

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What makes Ms. Gotsch think the pardon attorney and the president are doing anything to "expedite" the processing of the commutation backlog? That would be news to many, but it strikes me as wishful thinking.

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