commutation

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U.S.: President Obama Grants Clemency To 58 People In Federal Prison For Drugs

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Drug Policy Alliance: The President is Acting; Congress Must Step Up Too

President Barack Obama on Thursday commuted the sentences of 58 people incarcerated in federal prison for drug offenses. This follows the commutation of 61 individuals on March 30, 2016, 95 people in December of 2015, 45 people in July, 22 people in March 2015, and 8 people in December of 2014.

All of those who received commutations on Thursday were serving time in prison for nonviolent drug offenses, and many were victims of the disparity in sentencing between crack and cocaine.

Five of the individuals whose sentences were commuted on Thursday were imprisoned at least in part due to at least one marijuana charge.

President Obama has been under significant public pressure from advocacy groups and family members of people incarcerated for nonviolent drug offenses who are serving long, mandatory minimum sentences.

"The President is using his constitutional power, but he can only do so much," said Michael Collins, deputy director at Drug Policy Alliance's office of national affairs. "There is legislation in the Senate that would reduce mandatory minimums and have a greater impact on the prison population, and Leader McConnell needs to bring the bill up for a vote."

Missouri: Man Serving Life In Prison For Marijuana Granted Parole

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

In a case of justice long delayed, a Missouri man serving life without parole for marijuana will be released from a maximum security prison, according to the man's son.

Jeff Mizanskey was told Monday morning that he has been granted parole, according to his son, Chris Mizanskey, report Michelle Pekarsky and Shannon O'Brien at Fox4KC.com. Chris said his dad should be released within 10 to 25 days.

According to Chris, his sad called him briefly Monday morning to share the good news. They planned to talk again Monday night.

Jeff Mizanskey has already been behind bars for more than two decades for marijuana offenses. He is now 62 years old.

"My father ... has been in prison since he was 41," reads part of a Change.org petition for Mizanskey's release. "His parents -- my grandparents -- have since passed. While my dad has been trapped behind bars, generations of kids and grandkids have been born into our family who have never even met the man.

"The State of Missouri spends roughly $22,000/year to keep him locked up," the petition reads. "Meanwhile all my dad wants to do is be a productive part of society, work and pay taxes, be with his family. And I want my dad back."

Missiouri Gov. Jay Nixon in May commuted Mizankey's sentence, allowing him to be considered for parole. The hearing was held last week.

U.S.: President Obama Commutes Drug Sentences For 22 People

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

President Barack Obama on Tuesday commuted the sentences of 22 federal inmates convicted of nonviolent drug offenses. This follows the commutation of eight federal inmates convicted of drug offenses by President Obama in December of 2014.

According to White House counsel Neil Eggleston, “Had they been sentenced under current laws and policies, many of these individuals would have already served their time and paid their debt to society. Because many were convicted under an outdated sentencing regime, they served years — in some cases more than a decade — longer than individuals convicted today of the same crime."

"While today’s announcement represents important progress, there’s more work ahead," Eggleston said. "The Administration will continue to work to review thoroughly all petitions for clemency."

Last year, Attorney General Eric Holder made a number of forceful public statements against mass incarceration in the U.S., promising significant rollback of mandatory minimum and harsh sentencing guidelines. The Obama Administration also promised improvements in the commutation process.

Yet, despite his Administration's declared support of substantive criminal justice reform, until now Obama has used his power to grant clemency less frequently than nearly all other U.S. Presidents.

U.S.: President Obama To Commute Sentences For 8 In Drug Cases

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President Obama on Wednesday commuted the sentences of eight federal inmates convicted of non-violent drug offenses. Deputy Attorney General James Cole released a statement saying that the eight individuals "were sentenced under outdated and unfair laws," and "their punishments did not fit their crime."

Half of the eight whose sentences were commuted had been sentenced to life imprisonment, reports NPR.

The step could lead to a vast expansion of presidential clemency during Obama's last two years in office, reports Nedra Pickler of the Associated Press.

The eight new commutations include Barbara Scrivner, who was sentenced to 30 years in 1995, when she was 27 years old, for a minor rule in her husband's methamphetamine ring. The President ordered Scrivner's sentence to expire on June 12, while the others will expire April 15.

The President commuted the sentences of at least four people who were serving life without parole for nonviolent offenses, reports the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

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