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6 Reasons Why Obama's Clemency Program For Drug Offenders Doesn't Change Mass Incarceration One Bit

Holder, Obama and prisoners

It's all over the internet. The Obama administration is talking up the possibility of using presidential clemency powers to release some undetermined number, perhaps hundreds or even thousands of federal prisoners without wealth or political connections from their unjustly long drug sentences. But hold your hosannas, don't get your hopes up. Though the precise numbers are unclear at this time, what's unmistakably evident is that this is in no sense whatsoever the beginning of a rollback of America's prison state. The releases, as the attorney general and government officials are describing them, will not represent any significant or permanent change to the nation's universal policy of mass incarceration, mainly of poor black and brown youth. Here, in plain English are 6 reasons why.

  1. The Obama administration’s expected releases will use the president's clemency powers. Presidential clemency amounts to forgiveness after the fact. Clemency does not change a single word or phrase in any of the galaxy of state and federal laws which have already sent literally millions to prison for absurdly long sentences for what authorities call “non-violent drug offenses,” and under which hundreds of thousands are currently serving those same sentences and hundreds of thousands more are awaiting trial and sentencing. Clemency leaves those laws in place, so that the places of those released will soon be filled again.

  2. Presidential clemency will set no legal precedents that current or future defendants in federal or state drug cases, their attorneys or sentencing judges can use to avoid the application of unjust existing laws, including harsh mandatory minimums and sentencing guidelines. Like the unjust statutes, the unjust legal precedents which have helped filled state and federal prisons to bursting will also remain intact.

  3. Read the rest here....
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V. Arnold's picture
Submitted by V. Arnold on

...or a robbery? If one kills another, there are usually 6 additional charges stacked on; rob a bank? And you've probably broken another 6 statutes that will be added.
Every act except breathing has been criminalized. On a long drive? No rest areas or gas stations for many miles and one has to pee. You'd better not let anyone see you or you'll be charged as a sex offender! It's true and has happened to a guy in Oregon.
Everything is broken...

V. Arnold's picture
Submitted by V. Arnold on

...the U.S. privatization of its prison system is a gold mine for those companies. Guaranteed minimum incarceration numbers? Further evidence of the total corruption of the U.S. government.
Incarceration numbers must be held steady; the numbers will not go down.
My only advice is; walk (live your life) very carefully in your criminalized society; don't become a statistic...