Friday, May 23, 2014

Rep. Conyers on Clemency

Representative John Conyers "Dean" of the Congressional Black Caucus has an editorial at Huffington Post addressing Presidents Obama's proposed plan for commutations of sentence.

Conyers begins by noting that Congress has, for decades, implemented policies that "distort America's criminal justice system and tip the scales of justice in favor of punishment over rehabilitation." Thus, it is appropriate for the President to address those who have "experienced severe, cruel, and unjust mandatory sentences" - although clemency is not "a viable or intended permanent solution."

So, Conyers calls upon Congress to write laws "with logical, proportional and effective penalties" ans top "passing laws that contain mandatory sentencing provisions." Second, Congress needs to "eliminate, or greatly reduce, existing mandatory minimums and grant retroactive relief to those sentenced before current changes to sentencing policies took effect." Finally, Congress has a "moral obligation" to achieve "a 1:1 ratio in sentencing for crack cocaine cases compared to powder cocaine cases." See full editorial here.

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