Monday, November 21, 2016

Osler: Obama Instructs Obama. It Can Be Done.

At the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Mark Osler has a fine piece which features President Obama in a meeting with himself, or himself 20 years from now. It is truly a great read. Osler makes the point that, in the second term, the President has done some extraordinary things with the pardon power - at least in terms of comparison with his recent predecessors. But that isn't really saying much. In a key passage, the dialogue goes like this:

Obama:  .... How can I do any more?

Visitor:  ... You group them and cut the sentences of the lifers for nonviolent narcotics offenses, or the ones who didn’t get retroactive benefit when the crack law changed in 2010, or the long-termers over 60, or all of those groups. You have the Sentencing Commission send you the names; they’re good with data. If you wanted, you could use clemency to say that no nonviolent drug defendant should do more than 20 years ...

Obama: But, how do I know they are safe? I don’t want someone killed by one of these guys. We have to vet them all for prison behavior, right?

Visitor: Sure. But don’t forget, the Bureau of Prisons has already done that with prison classification. You just throw out the ones still in maximum security — those are the ones who have been in trouble. If they earned their way to a lower classification, the BOP has already told you what you need to know. These are low-risk populations, anyway. And if you don’t do anything because of some risk, there will be the certainty of injustice.

See the complete piece here. It is fantastic read!


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