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Monday, October 24, 2016

By Timothy M. Phelps, Tribune Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON — Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said Monday that the Justice Department will announce new clemency criteria aimed at freeing potentially thousands of prisoners convicted of using crack cocaine.

To prepare for the expected flood of petitions, the Justice Department is planning to assign dozens of new lawyers to its small pardon attorney’s office, Holder said.

Holder made the announcement in his weekly video message, a relatively new feature apparently designed to get the attorney general additional news exposure.

“The White House has indicated it wants to consider additional clemency applications to restore a degree of justice, fairness and proportionality for deserving individuals who do not pose a threat to public safety,” Holder said. “The Justice Department is committed to recommending as many qualified applicants as possible for reduced sentences.”

In 2010 President Obama signed into law a measure aimed at evening out a long-standing disparity in the sentencing of users of powder cocaine and crack cocaine, with crack cocaine, used disproportionately by African-Americans, drawing significantly higher sentences than powder.

But Congress did not make the law retroactive, leaving thousands of people in prison long after they would have been released under the new law.

In December, Obama commuted the sentences of eight such people, but some advocates said that there are 7,000 more prisoners in the same situation.

AFP Photo/Al Seib

  • Mark N Starla Traina
  • Mark N Starla Traina

    The is the DUMBEST thing the DUMBEST PRESIDENT in U.S. has ever DONE – BAR NONE!


  • sleepvark

    The dumbest president, Mark? If you mean the cowardly shrub from a few years back, I could readily agree with you.
    The drug war is a bust, has been from the beginning. Unless of course you enjoy paying lots of taxes to create and maintain the walled in and gated communities with free meals and the finest health care available in the US for those unfortunate enough to be thrown into our prison system. We have both the highest incarceration rate and the highest absolute numbers of prisoners of any country on the face of the planet.
    It would be reasonable therefore to infer that the US has the most evil human population of any nation on earth if we really need to incarcerate that many of our fellow citizens. This does not speak well of any of us who are left out of that system.
    We need to give ourselves, and our fellow citizens, a break. Sending minor drug offenders to prison only creates a population of social welfare dependents who will have to be supported indefinitely, given the dramatic reduction in employment potential involved for this group. It’s all so needless.