Monday, May 16, 2016

Ferranti on Life After Clemency

At Huffington Post, Seth Ferranti goes where few discussion of clemency bother to go. The specific focus is the case of one Rodney White, a 51-year-old who spent over 15 years in federal prison for a "first-time, nonviolent drug conviction for conspiracy to distribute cocaine, crack and heroin." White left prison in 2007, earned a bachelor’s degree and a masters before landing a job at North Carolina A and T State, then Danville Community College. But, along the way, White has been denied other employment opportunities because of his felony conviction.

So, he now seeks a presidential pardon from a president who has granted fewer pardons than any full term president since John Adams !

Suppose White fills out the 23 page application, then beats the odds. Suppose he wins such a freakishly rare grant, from this President. Are the hurdles finally removed? Can he actually then go on being the productive, successful member of society that everyone wants a former convict to be? The Editor of this blog notes:
“There are some legal nuances and debates in the background.” Ruckman says. “While a pardon my clear a record and end all official, federal governmental punishment / restrictions, there may be others (collateral consequences) lurking from professions or the states. This is why ‘ban the box’ initiatives are so important. Sadly, a commutation of sentence can be an amazing second chance in life for a prisoner. But the hurdles they face in re-incorporating themselves back into society as productive members can be enormous. These may be problems which cannot be solved, but they deserve our attention. I was invited the closed briefing on ‘Life After Clemency’ at the White House last month. It certainly dramatized how brutal the process of getting back on one’s feet can be.” 
Says White:
"I do want a Pardon, but I want even more for there to be jobs and education in our communities for returning citizens. If given the opportunity to hire or interview a returning citizen employers should give them the chance to prove themselves. The biggest change doesn’t happen because a law of rule is changed. The biggest change is when we truly forgive those of us who return to society.”
See Ferranti's full piece here.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I served 18 months in the federal prison system for "CONSPIRACY" to posses with intent to distribute pot. I never sold drugs in my life and rarely used them. All I did was introduce two people. One guy who sold it and one guy who was looking to buy to use for personal use. The seller got popped 3 years down the line and began giving names of people he has sold to. My name was given and I was charged with conspiracy. Just signed statements. No drugs, No wire taps...Nothing but two signed statements from two convicted drug dealers giving names to get their sentence reduced. I told my lawyer this would be easy to beat. He told me NOT so fast. He told me that all the prosecution had to prove that you knew the sale of the drugs took place that's it !!!...To top it off the drug conspiracy they pulled me in on went back 10 years for the original amount of drugs they said the group of people was responsible for moving. Please bear in mind I was 13 years old when the government said the conspiracy began. So the prosecution says hey you.. if you do not plead to what we feel you are personally responsible for which carried 18 to 24 months in federal prison we will try you on 10 years to life for the entire weight of the conspiracy ? How does the prosecution live with this ? Do they get so lost in the process of convictions and forget the fact they are dealing with a human life ?
I can assure anyone that if the Federal government ever charges you with conspiracy there is NO reasonable defense against this charge that will not expose you to a lengthy jail sentence.
I do not know how accurate this is but My attorney advised me the Federal drug Conspiracy charge was put into existence at the start of the war on drugs campaign. It was designed to reach out the foreign drug lords such as Escobar etc... in the event one of their runners were caught they could get signed statements and bring the charge against these untouchable drug lords. ( see the Barry Seal story/movie)
The feds took this conspiracy charge and turned it on the small street dealer and/or user. The Feds and their drug charges and high conviction rate is not an indication of how really good they are but is a reflection of the abuse of the " Conspiracy" charge.
it takes 3 people to have a conspiracy. If you have two other individuals that sign statements on you that you knew something has happened no matter if you took part or not you can be charged with conspiracy and the defense against this charge is futile. I know I am one of this people that had this happen.

Something needs to be done about bringing down a conspiracy charge. The burden of proof and evidence should be much more involved on the governments behalf before ever getting true bill of indictment against anyone and then intimidating the person to plead guilty because they are scared of getting a crazy sentence like LIFE.
This itself is a crime in my humble opinion. The way it is now the government can keep arresting people by getting signed statements from individuals and throw these crazy sentences at them and get the people to throw more names in the hat and the never ending cycle of conspiracy arrest continue...Its a lazy and convenient charge by those agency's seeking the charge. The individuals that you see getting 20,30 and life sentences refused to give any names to get the downward departure. Sadly many of these people didn't know names to give because they were not deep enough into the drug trade. So guess what the real dealer gets the break cause he can give up all his small people.

So in close if you want the non-violent, pardon, clemency, etc. Fixed...then start at the head of the snake and place more steps and burden of proof on the government
in order to bring a drug conspiracy charge. Do this and watch the federal inmate prison population dwindle.

Professor Ruckman if you choose not to allow this on your blog I understand but this is how it truly works and it stinks.

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