Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Saunders: A Dumb and Mean War

Debra J. Saunders, a long-time advocate of clemency for Clarence Aaron (see our Pardon Watch List) has a piece in today's San Francisco Chronicle on the Nation's "dumb and mean" war on drugs. Saunders notes the 1986 Anti-Drug Abuse Act hasn't been so much "bad news for major drug traffickers" as it has been the institutionalization of a "100-to-1 crack/powder cocaine sentencing disparity" - a disparity that Sen. Obama "campaigned against" in 2008. Says Saunders:

Kudos to Obama for working for needed balance. But he can do more. Former U.S. Pardon Attorneys Margaret Colgate Love and John Stanish recommended in the National Law Journal that Obama apply "a few judicious grants of clemency to crack defendants who have served many years in prison and have been recommended for release by the prosecutor or the sentencing judge." Or he could choose to commute the sentences of first-time nonviolent offenders serving draconian time.

But, as PardonPower has noted (here), Obama is instead on the fast-track to being among history's very slowest, and notoriously foot-dragging presidents, when it comes to pardons. We agree with Saunders, "Now that's not change - where change is most needed." See Saunders' complete editorial here.

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