February 2014: President Obama Announces New Clemency Approach

Last Thursday, January 30, 2014, the Obama Administration announced that it will move forward on commuting (reducing) sentences for federal non violent drug offenders serving long prison terms. The Justice Department indicated that it is looking for inmates to apply who are similar to the eight people who were granted clemency by President Obama in December, 2013. All of those individuals were sentenced to at least 15 years in federal prison. (This new initiative does not apply to state prisoners.) The new Justice Department initiative suggests that the President could end up granting clemency to a much larger group of federal offenders. Specifically, the Department is looking for “nonviolent, low-level drug offenders who were not leaders of—nor had any significant ties to—large-scale organizations, gangs, or cartels.” It appears that first-time offenders and those without substantial criminal records would also be considered. Historically, commutations have rarely and selectively been used and can take quite some time to process. However, this new initiative will streamline the process and hopefully a much larger number of commutations will be granted over a much shorter period of time. Please feel free to contact NPSC at 615-696-6153 for more information and competent, experienced attorney referrals.