Saturday, December 10, 2016

Letter to President Obama

Letter to President Obama: Since January of 2008, this nationally recognized blog has been dedicated to following the very latest news regarding presidential pardons and the pardon power (or clemency powers) as exercised in each state. Reader comments are certainly welcomed but a premium will be placed on civility, relevance and originality. Please refrain from extended copying and pasting.

The Times: Ready for Blanket Clemency

P.S Ruckman at Pardon Power puts it in Perspective

The Times: Ready for Blanket Clemency: Since January of 2008, this nationally recognized blog has been dedicated to following the very latest news regarding presidential pardons and the pardon power (or clemency powers) as exercised in each state. Reader comments are certainly welcomed but a premium will be placed on civility, relevance and originality. Please refrain from extended copying and pasting.

Friday, December 9, 2016


Dear President Obama






The measure of mercy and compassion will not just be measured by the number of commutations granted, but also by the number and nature of those left behind.


Alexander Hamilton Federalist No.74 
“The criminal code of every country partakes so much of necessary severity, that without an easy access to exceptions in favor of unfortunate guilt, justice would wear a countenance too sanguinary and cruel“Humanity and good policy conspire to dictate, that the benign prerogative of pardoning should be as little as possible fettered or embarrassed.”
On these accounts, one man appears to be a more eligible dispenser of the mercy of government, than a body of men.

These are People serving Life for Pot
 Case for Clemency for a Category of Offenders

Life without parole for nonviolent offenders is a sentence that is out of sync with the European Community, human rights organizations and most countries governed by the rule of law.  We lose our status as a fair and just society when we continue to be an outlier in this particularly harsh form of punishment.  It is indeed a sentence of walking death that coarsens our culture in multiple ways.
A category clemency for these offenders should be on the table and when the announcement of a project to greatly expand the use of clemency was made, many believed there was hope to correct this egregious length of punishment for thousands serving life without parole or de facto life sentences.

Categories within this Category

These suggested categories are for nonviolent marijuana offenders and those serving disparate sentences for crack cocaine.  The current process needs consistency and this suggestion would remediate the overly aggressive sentences that have been given to these two groups as a result of the aggressive war on drugs.
Most all of these sentences were given to those who were charged with conspiracy and exercised their sixth amendment right to trial.  In the last 15 years “the fundaments of law, society and governance have changed extraordinarily.  These LWOP sentences have become irreconcilable without a present sense of basic fairness and justice, because of the sea change in attitudes toward life sentences without parole.
A Singular Category – Nonviolent Marijuana Offenders

There has also been a sea change in societal beliefs about the benefits of marijuana and its potential for harm.”
“Looked at through the present prism of the historic rise in prison populations the unaffordable, burgeoning costs of LWOP sentences; the disproportionality of sentencing for drugs; the growing public sense that the drug wars have been a public policy disaster; and, among the majority of Americans, a sense of the relative harmlessness of marijuana, these LWOP sentences are legally and factually unjustifiable.  

Clemency is the only solution to what has become an abiding injustice.”
When Eric Holder talked about 10,000 Commutations,  the suggestion that our sentences are harsh, lack forgiveness and mercy and do not fit the crime was not a new concept.  Careful observers of our criminal justice system had been chattering about this fact for 20 years. 
Justice Kennedy Speaks Out: ABA Association, Aug. 3, 2003
We hope that both the members of Congress and the Bush administration were paying attention last weekend when Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, a tough-on-crime Reagan appointee, decried harsh and inflexible sentencing policies. Justice Kennedy was speaking for legal experts from across the political spectrum when he said the current rules misspent America's criminal justice resources by locking up people for irrationally long amounts of time.
Mark Mauer, Rayan King, & Malcolm Young,   The Meaning of Life 2004
Mark Osler & Rachel Barkow Restructuring Clemency: The Cost of Ignoring Clemency
 A Plan for Renewal 10, 2014

After Attorney General Holders announcement, many advocates for these unfortunate citizens serving these egregiously long sentences began to ramp up their support for the inmates who now had hope for a second chance for freedom.  These people who now had hope were the nonviolent drug offenders who were sentenced to assure that they would die in Federal Prison hand cuffed to a hospital bed.  Their families were energized by this promise of clemency and reached out to social media, print media, criminal reform advocacy groups, criminal defense attorneys and the political establishment.

The recent letter sent to President Obama signed by a coalition of advocates asking for expedited clemency for groups suggests categories to be considered.  This is a category that could be easily supported. John Legend letter to President Obama in Rolling Stones asks for category clemency.  At the Justice Roundtable, Nkechi Taifa has written about The Fierce Urgency of Now to describe the need for category commutations.
 
The measure of mercy and compassion will not just be measured by the number of commutations granted, but also by the number and nature of those left behind. 

Examples of Nonviolent Marijuana Offenders with Life Sentences
 John Knock  11150-017
PO Box 3000
White Deer, PA. 17887
Circuit:                        11th
Age:                             69                  
Charges:                       Conspiracy to import, distribute and      




Priors:                           None
Incarcerated since        1996 Sentenced Jan. 2001
Trial or Plea:                Trial



        Craig Cesal                  52958-019  Clemency Denied
Terre Haute FCI
PO Box 33
Terre Haute, IN. 47808

Circuit:                         11th
Age:                              57
Charges:                       Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute
Priors:                          trespassing – while in college
Incarcerated Since:      March 2002
Trial or Plea:                Neither – Wanted to take back plea after 1 day – sentenced without trial or plea
Health Issues:              Craig is a brittle diabetic and has a back injury from working for Unicorr




  
          Michael Pelletier            11109-036
Terre Haute USP
PO Box 33
Terre Haute, IN. 47808

Circuit:                         1st
Age:                             60
Charges:                       Conspiracy to distribute
Priors:                          2 prior marijuana offenses
Incarcerated Since:      2006
Trial or Plea:                Trial
Health Issues:              Michael has been in a wheel chair since the age of 11 as a result of a farm accident



             Hector McGurk              25843-102
FCI Tucson
PO. Box 23811
Tucson AZ. 85724
Circuit:                         4th
Age:                             57
Charges:                       Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute conspiracy to money launder
Priors:
Incarcerated Since:       7/3/2003
Trial or Plea:  Trial –     1st       12/2004           hung jury        4/13/2005 convicted
Health Issues:               diabetes


https://www.lifeforpot.com/inmates-over-62.html
             Paul Free                        42234-198
USP Atwater
PO Box 01900
Atwater, CA. 95301
Circuit:                         6th
Age:                             66
Charges:                       Conspiracy
Priors:                          Marijuana 1976
Incarcerated Since:      1994
Trial or Plea:                Trial



Ferrell Scott                             27797-177            Clemency Denied
USP Allenwood
PO Box 3000
White Deer, PA. 17887
Circuit:                         4th
Age:                             53
Charges:                       Conspiracy -possession
Priors:
Incarcerated since:       2007
Trial or Plea:                Trial            

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

FLASH: Shocking 'Inside Scoop' on Turkey Pardons !

Happy Thanksgiving


 
FLASH: Shocking 'Inside Scoop' on Turkey Pardons !: Since January of 2008, this nationally recognized blog has been dedicated to following the very latest news regarding presidential pardons and the pardon power (or clemency powers) as exercised in each state. Reader comments are certainly welcomed but a premium will be placed on civility, relevance and originality. Please refrain from extended copying and pasting.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Obama's Clemency Grants, Denials, Closings

Obama's Clemency Grants, Denials, Closings: Since January of 2008, this nationally recognized blog has been dedicated to following the very latest news regarding presidential pardons and the pardon power (or clemency powers) as exercised in each state. Reader comments are certainly welcomed but a premium will be placed on civility, relevance and originality. Please refrain from extended copying and pasting.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Pivot Back to Clemency - Fulfill the Promise of Mercy and Compassion

When Good News may be Very Bad

 Craig is a first time nonviolent marijuana offender who received a sentence of Life without Parole in the 11th Circuit, Northern District of Florida.  Craig has been incarcerated for 14 years and is 57 years old.

This week Craig Cesal's sentencing Judge made his own motion and reduced Craig's sentence from life to 30 years.  Craig was told that the judge reduced his sentence in light of the "drugs minus two" reduction that took effect in 2014.  Craig was told this by his case manager.  

A little over a year ago Craig filed a petition for Presidential Clemency.  As part  of the process to receive  clemency, the Office of the Pardon Attorney must send a copy of his petition to his prosecutor and his judge.  Under Eleventh Circuit law, Craig is not actually eligible for drugs minus two reduction because his computed guideline offense level was beyond the  pot limit of the chart.  

Other circuits allow a judge to start at level 43, the top of the chart and move downward when calculating a reduction.  Craig was waiting to file until the Eleventh Circuit adopted this rule.  If the Eleventh Circuit adopts this Craig could be eligible for a sentence in the 20 year range.  

One of the main reasons for granting  clemency is that there is no other option for sentencing relief as the patitioner does not qualify for sentencing relief from legislation that has passed or legislation that is pending.  Craig clearly did not qualify, but did fit into the category for clemency with a hopeless sentence of life without parole for a nonviolent marijuana offense  - He was charged with conspiracy and chose to exercise his Sixth Amendment right to trial. 

It appears that the Pardon Attorney sent Craig's clemency petition to the AUSA in the Northern District of Georgia for comment prior to granting clemency.  Apparently, the AUSA made the request to the judge as Craig did not make the request for sentencing reduction.  Additionally,  in the 11th Circuit Craig would not be eligible for a reduction in sentence based on drugs minus two.  If Craig does not take this he is not allowed to petition for relief under drugs minus two again even when the 11th Circuit adopts the sentencing chart of other Circuits.  

Craig now may be denied clemency because he was granted sentencing relief through drugs minus two, but Craig is a diabetic and reducing his life sentence to 30 years will give him a release date when he is 74 years of age.  This is beyond his life span.  Thus - Craig will be a statistic - An inmate who was granted a sentencing reduction through sentencing reform legislation, but still will most likely be incarcerated till death.  

This was all done in an irregular and not at the request of Craig.  This is a sentence that does not fit the crime for a first time nonviolent marijuana offender.







Thursday, August 25, 2016

Friday, August 5, 2016

Goodlatte. Clueless Critic Extraordinaire.



 P S Ruckman Responds to Bob Goodlatte about the Presidents Clemency Power Always to the Point

Friday, July 29, 2016

Mandatory Minimums, Maximum Punishment

 Charles Koch Institute supports Sentencing Reform and Sentencing Relief



Mandatory Minimums, Maximum Punishment: Thanks to tireless help from Families Against Mandatory Minimums, Weldon Angelos received a sentence reduction on the 55 years he faced for selling marijuana while carrying a firearm.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Time's Up - Let Me Go! Campaign

 This new campaign by the Exodus Foundation asks for 50,000 commutations

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

An Open Letter to the President

 P. S. Ruckman at Pardon Power posted this Letter to the President.

Release Non-Violent Drug Offenders  There are thousands who should receive Clemency.

An Open Letter to the President

Friday, June 10, 2016

Life With Out Parole





life without parole life without parole clemency commutation for a systemic, category or group nonviolent drug offenders with life without parole

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Whole Lotta Talkin' Goin' On (Part 36)

 This is from the Pardon Power Blog.  The promise of Clemency to thousands was made, but as time runs out many fear it will not be fulfilled.


Sunday, April 24, 2016

Seventy-Five-Year-Old Disabled Veteran Will Die in Prison for Growing Marijuana Plants for Personal Use

 States that still give Life for Pot - 
Alabama, Louisiana, Florida, Oklahoma, Texas - are there more?


Seventy-Five-Year-Old Disabled Veteran Will Die in Prison for Growing Marijuana Plants for Personal Use: The injustice of a mass-incarceration system that is an oubliette for people who've been deemed disposable will continue.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Heritage on the Apocalyptic Pardon Horseman

 A very interesting piece by P.S. Ruckman on the 
Pardon Power Blog.  Read all of it.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Osler's Razor: The stone is rolled away



I remember my father and his own faith.  It was a faith that believed in the metaphors of the stories read and told by Christians.  It was the belief that those stories represented ways to cope with the chafe and pain that may come from time to time. 

It was also a belief that love was a chain that connected the lives of the shattered to the lives of the complete and they should not be broken.  It's been many years since I thought about finding comfort in these words, but sometimes the thud of truth can hit hard.

This piece by Mark Osler has that truth for me. 

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

A 'Draconian' System Where the Innocent Plead Guilty

 Plea Bargaining - Where the Sausage is Made


A 'Draconian' System Where the Innocent Plead Guilty: The U.S. criminal justice system is broken and needs to be fixed is a message you rarely hear from a well-respected senior federal judge.

But that’s exactly what Judge Jed Rakoff of the Southern District of New York detailed during a keynote address at the 11th Annual Harry Frank Guggenhei...

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Clemency Is Not Enough: Thousands Still Imprisoned For Nonviolent Marijuana Crimes

Clemency Is Not Enough: Thousands Still Imprisoned For Nonviolent Marijuana Crimes: About 44 percent of federal marijuana inmates had no or very minimal criminal histories prior to their conviction, and over a third are over the age of 40.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

U.S. Pardon Attorney: Does It Even Matter?

 Thoughtful piece by P.S. Ruckman at Pardon Power.


 As President Obama goes on the hunt for a new U.S. Pardon Attorney (something he should have done at the beginning of his presidency -instead of simply retaining Ronald L. Rodgers, George W. Bush's appointee), many wonder what impact the abrupt resignation of DeborahLeff will have on the already lame clemency record of this administration.  more


Friday, January 15, 2016

Shock: U.S. Pardon Attorney to Resign

 Just saw this on P.S. Ruckman's Blog Pardon Power.
It's a shock 

Shock: U.S. Pardon Attorney to Resign

 The Associated Press reports that Deborah Leff, the U.S. Pardon Attorney, is resigning "at the end of the month after less than two years on the job."  more

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

OPA Calls for 16 Attorney Advisors

Great News - We hope it means Thousands of Commutations are coming as promised.
http://democracyjournal.org/magazine/39/a-20-year-maximum-for-prison-sentences/

Great piece by Mark Mauer.  Link below.


Tagged CrimePrisons






Tuesday, January 5, 2016

john knock a case of charging disparity


John is a 68 year old nonviolent marijuana offender who received two life terms plus twenty for a marijuana offense.  He is a first time offender.  John has been incarcerated for a few months short of 20 years,  He has petitioned President Obama for a Commutation of his sentence to time served.  

The incarceration of nonviolent marijuana offenders for life is a waste of  taxpayer money and is not compatible with civil liberties.  

Nonviolent marijuana offender who are serving sentences of life without parole and have served 10 years could receive commutations  without endangering the safety of any community they are returned to. 

Releasing these nonviolent marijuana offenders would save tens of millions of dollars and would help restore faith in the criminal justice system.  It is obvious that these are sentences that do not fit the crime.  

Most all of the nonviolent marijuana offenders who received these sentences were charged with conspiracy and elected to exercise their Sixth Amendment Right to trial.  This is how these sentences are given.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

This article in Vice by Justin Glawe is a story about a little known component of out Criminal Justice System.


The combination of being charged with conspiracy and going to trial results in Life without Parole for nonviolent marijuana offenders and all other nonviolent drug offenders.  This is what Life for Pot has found for the nonviolent marijuana offenders that we have spotlighted on our site.

How Drug Conspiracy Laws Put Regular People in Prison for Life

Vice - Justin Glawe

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Saturday, June 27, 2015


There will be lots of consequences from the Supreme Court decision Johnson v. United States.  

Is it to hopeful to believe that one of them may be that Congress would craft legislation that is precise and without ambiguity.  

The enforcement, prosecution and sentencing has increasingly run amok and resulted in over incarceration and loss of citizens freedoms due to overcharging and overly broad interpretation of the law.  With the addition of mandatory minimums and the increased authority and power of prosecutors we have become a nation of prisoners when compared to the rest of the free world.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Life For Pot - Release Nonviolent Drug offenders

We're revising our web site to include current content and thoughts.  During the next few months it seems to us that advocates need to contact the President and the Justice Department to encourage them to grant Commutations at an accelerated rate.  

Inmates with mandatory minimums - Life without Parole - for nonviolent drug offenses need to have sentencing relief that they may not get through legislation. Congress should also not oppose the use of funds for the Pardon Attorney's Office.  These are critical actions that must be taken to restore fiscal responsibility and justice.  

Life without Parole for nonviolent drug offenses cannot be an accepted sentence for a nation that believes in mercy, compassion, and justice.



Monday, June 1, 2015

Koch Urges Obama Administration to Grant Clemency to Release Nonviolent Drug Offenders.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/elections/2016/2015/06/01/charles-koch-president-obama-release-drug-offenders-clemency/28309233/http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/elections/2016/2015/06/01/charles-koch-president-obama-release-drug-offenders-clemency/28309233/