Friday, May 29, 2015

Released from Prison. And Now ...

Yahoo features a story on one Barbara Scrivner, whose prison sentence was recently commuted by President Obama. Yahoo summarizes Scrivner's case as follows:
More than 20 years ago, when Scrivner was a 27-year-old new mother, federal agents busted her husband on drug charges ... Her husband sent some of his friends with a few ounces of meth, which she delivered to pay the bills. Less than a year later, when the whole drug ring was rounded up and arrested by the feds, Scrivner was slapped with 30 years in prison after she refused to testify against her husband and his friends ... Though she was addicted to meth and knew her husband dealt drugs, she had almost no involvement in his business except for the month she transported meth when he was in prison. She couldn’t believe she was now serving a 30-year sentence, as if she were a kingpin. 
Scrivner appealed her conviction several times and lost. Then, in 2005, she applied for a presidential commutation, a request that was supported by the judge who sentenced her. He wrote that he would have preferred a 10 year sentence, but a mandatory minimum drug laws tied his hands. Still, the application was rejected by President George W. Bush and then, interestingly, by President Obama (who, on second thought(?) has since made an official call for applications just like hers!)

Now, Scrivner is seeing the other side of the coin re the consequences of a federal conviction. She has sent her resume to many businesses, and had some face to face interviews, but, like many other Americans, had great difficulty landing a job, perhaps, in part, because of her federal conviction. She carried a letter President Barack Obama sent to her as a kind of secret weapon.

Yahoo says President Obama "plans to release hundreds, and perhaps even thousands, of federal prisoners who have served 10 years or more on a nonviolent drug charge" and his Justice Department "has tasked a team of private lawyers to sift through the thousands of applications that have poured in since the unprecedented program was announced last year."

Yahoo also says the President wants his handful of commutation recipients "to defy the trend of high recidivism among the nation’s ex-convicts." Scrivner, herself, says that, at times, she has felt like she had "a better life in prison." Without referencing data relevant to clemency recipients, Yahoo notes, "people who have served longer sentences tend to recidivate at a lower rate than those who have served shorter ones because they have typically aged out of the peak offending years by the time they’re let out of prison."

The story ends by noting Scrivner has landed a job at a cleaning company washing windows. See story here.

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