What if President Obama used his last days in office to pardon all the non-violent drug offenders in the federal justice system?
According to PrisonPolicy.Org there are just over 100,000 drug offenders in federal prisons. Let’s say that half of them are non-violent offenders. That’s 50,000 men and women and children* who could be released before the inauguration.
Imagine the sudden release of tens of thousands of people who’d been busted for pot or smack, coke or crack…
Would this cause a huge problem? Absolutely. It would mean overtime for lawyers vetting the offenders. It would mean massive headaches for prison wardens. It would overwhelm social service systems and “reentry” programs.
It would mean homecomings—and homelessness. And joblessness and unemployment.
It would mean that those 50,000 or more would be given an instant second chance.
Would some of these former criminals get high, get re-addicted, deal drugs, get busted again committing a drug or other offense and return to jail in the short or long term? Maybe. Maybe even probably.
But even if 45,000 were stupid enough to blow the opportunity, then 5,000 black and brown, white and Asian women and men would still be out in the world, living their lives again.
Time is short. There are so many people pushing President Obama to pardon Edward Snowden.
How about more meaningful pardons for more people?
If you care about this, please pass it along. If you know how to get in touch with the President, do it. Call the Whitehouse, talk to your Congressional delegation. Sign a petition.
Here’s a petition at Change.Org https://www.change.org/p/barack-obama-dear-potus-pardon-all-federal-non-violent-drug-offenders
P.S. Additional Thoughts
Yes, I wish I’d had this idea sooner. The Petition the House website has been disabled prior to the inauguration.
Yes, I know that there are Department of Justice guidelines that say you have to apply for a pardon and be in the system for five years, but those are guidelines.
The president’s power to pardon is granted by Article II, Section 2, Clause 1 of the Constitution, which provides: “The President … shall have Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offenses against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.”
A pardon is meant to indicate forgiveness of a particular crime, either because a person was wrongfully convicted or the punishment was not appropriate for the crime committed. —http://www.clearupmyrecord.com/pardon-vs-celemency.php
The president has indicated his interest in prison reform. He knows that the United States, with its smaller population, has more prisoners than China. He also knows that this burden falls on people of color more than it does on white people. A massive federal pardon would is only a drop in the bucket of the more than 2.3 million currently incarcerated in our Prison Industrial Complex.
Other ideas: What if the president took it a step further and pardoned anyone awaiting trial or sentencing? What if he granted pardons to men and women who had already been released?
*If you’re under 21 and can’t legally drink, I think you’re still a child.