Friday, September 15, 2017

Friday, September 1, 2017

This is a piece by Nkechi Taifa from The Justice RoundTable Convener's Corner. 

August 25, 2017
Convener’s Corner, Nkechi Taifa
Trump Pardoned Arpaio – What we gonna do???

Excuse my language, but I am pissed. Not because Trump pardoned Arpaio — the Executive has an unfettered constitutional right to grant clemency to whoever s/he wishes. I am outraged because we as a progressive community are too often stymied by what the conservative and law enforcement communities think about our thoughts and actions and, as a result, are afraid to go bold. Trump went bold. He cut right through the red tape and pardoned his bigoted buddy.

The handwriting was on the wall toward the end of the Obama administration. The Executive was urged, time and again, to go bold. Instead, although well-meaning, the progressive administration adopted a process on top of an already flawed process. It followed the long-standing but problematic rule of law of deferring to the same agency that prosecuted and imprisoned those now appealing for release. It would likely be the last opportunity for at least four years for people like William Underwood, Michelle West, Leonard Peltier, Mutulu Shakur, Alice Johnson and John Knock to have any hope of release from lengthy incarceration. 

But the progressive administration was stymied by criteria, by prosecutorial veto, by blind adherence to process and procedure, by red tape, and by the time-honored rule of law.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

These are the people serving Life without Parole for marijuana

This is the letter Life for Pot is sending to the United States Sentencing Commission.  These are our comments for submission.

Dear Members of US Sentencing Commission,

The current level of incarceration is not fiscally responsible and it does not speak to justice.  The time for nuanced and incremental sentencing reform is past.  This is a time that calls for bold decisions and bold actions.

I'm speaking for a unique category of offender whose sentences are in no way proportional to the harm of their offense.  These offenders are nonviolent marijuana offenders with no violent priors and no other substance in their charges.  They have also received unconscionable sentences of Life without Parole or defacto life without parole.

These sentences coarsen our culture and foster disrspect for our Criminal Justice System.  At Life for Pot, we were not surprised to see that the offenders who received these mind bending soulless sentences had for the most part been charged with conspiracy and exercised their 6th Amendment Right to trial.  In other words, at sentencing they received the trial penalty.

Law enforcement is well aware of the consequences of a conspiracy charge.  The most benign consequence is that it is a less costly prosecution.  For the defendant, conspiracy charges require that the defendant either accept responsibility for the actions of many over a period of time or go to trial and most certainly receive a sentence of multiple years more than others.

     Denial of relevant conduct should not be considered in determining whether a defendant has accepted responsibility for purposes of 3E1.1.

Marijuana is a substance that has been legalized to some degree in the majority of the states.  It is a substance that is less harmful and less addictive than alcohol yet it continues to be a Schedule I drug on the Controlled Substance Act's schedule.  Billions of dollars are now being invested in business enterprises for marijuana.  It is not reasonable for this substance to continue to be the reason for the arrest of over 500,000 individuals per year, the incarceration of hundreds of thousands and the expenditure of  up to $ 42 billion per  year.

When Clemency Project 2014 was initiated, we believed that nonviolent marijuana offenders with life sentences and de-facto life sentences would receive Presidential Clemency.  That did not happen.  Of the 1,715 individuals  who received commutations, we only found 39 who were nonviolent marijuana only offenders.  It's difficult to understand how sentences of this magnitude were ever deemed appropriate for nonviolent marijuana offenders, but in the current climate of legalization and the establishment of Cannabis businesses, this level of retribution cannot be defended

A maximum sentence of 10 years should be retroactive. 

Beth Curtis MSW

In a just and reasonable world marijuana should not be regulated and there should not be prosecution for it's use.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Larkin: Reform Clemency NOW !

Larkin: Reform Clemency NOW !: 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.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Life For Pot - Online : About

Life For Pot - Online : About: Life for Pot Commutation executive clemency commutation for nonviolent marijuana inmates sentenced to life without parole nonviolent marijuana prisoners

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Response to The Man who Ran Obama's Clemency Machine

 This is our response to The Man who Ran Obama's Clemency Machine.  
It was published on The Marshall Project.  
An interview with Neil Eggleston by Maurice Chammah

Life for Pot’s Response too Neil Eggleston – Beth Curtis

Responding to The Marshall Project: 

The Man Who Ran Obama’s Clemency Machine    by: Maurice Chammah

Neil Eggleston’s comments about Clemency Project 2014 shed some light on the reason for the ultimate failure and collapse of this Obama initiative for criminal justice reform. 

For the first five years of Obama’s presidency the federal prison population grew by 19,000 incarcerated people.  On Jan. 2013, the population was 219,298, the highest incarceration rate in history.

Criminal justice organizations, prisoner advocacy groups, criminal defense attorneys, law school clinics, prisoner’s families and various other lobbying groups started the drum beat for sentencing reform and an initiative of Presidential Clemency.  Finally in 2013 it was announced that there would be a clemency initiative that could mean 10,000 or more acts of mercy for incarcerated people who would not be a threat if they were released.  

Those of us with incarcerated loved ones who had sentences that would assure that they would die behind bars now had a reason for hope.  We felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude to the President and all who were involved in the decision and the process that would lead to our loved ones freedom.  We could hope to have our family member in our daily lives again.  The hope was an ache, but we knew this President had compassion.  It was not to be.  

The lack of commitment became apparent almost immediately.  I have the web site Life for Pot and the nonviolent marijuana offenders that I advocate for waited patiently for their evaluation by cp-14.  Surprisingly some were rejected, and others accepted to the project and were told they would be assigned an attorney.  Those fortunate inmates who were assigned an attorney would sometimes just receive a notification that they were represented and hear nothing more.  We urged them to submit their own and wait.

This is not just a passing interest for me.  I have a 69 year old brother, John Knock, who has two life sentences for a nonviolent marijuana conspiracy.  John was a first time offender and at sentencing the judge stated that there were no victims.  He has been incarcerated for 20 years and never had an infraction.  His prison resume is impeccable.  He is a first time offender.  On January 18, his clemency petition was denied by President Obama.

These are the numbers that tell you about the mercy and compassion of the Clemency Initiative.  The promise was 10,000 or more.

1,715 Commutations granted – we could only find 39 for nonviolent marijuana only offenders.  The rest were denied or left pending.  The USSC said there were 60+ but they included those with other drugs in their charges as long as the major substance was marijuana.  Our criteria are marijuana only.

Over 18,000 petitions for commutation were denied

Over 4,000 petitions for commutation we closed without action

Over 8,000 petitions for commutation were left pending in the Pardon Attorney’s office for the next administration. 

I must reject Mr. Eggleston’s assertion that he had better information and insight than the attorneys, advocates, or families about who was a good candidate for release.  He asserts that he and President Obama looked over all the applicants and rejected all but 1,715.  

Apparently Mr. Eggleston and President Obama based their denials on secret information. That implies that all the nonviolent marijuana offenders that I know who were denied should remain in prison till they die because Mr. Eggleston and President Obama have special information unknown to anyone else?  What are the secrets that gave them confidence to make this Sophie’s Choice?  They missed the point of Clemency.  It is not a legal process but a Constitutional Power given to the President to be compassionate and merciful.  In this endeavor they failed miserably. 

These assertions made by Mr. Eggleston have tainted the character and behavior of all they left behind.  I can only believe this was done in order to burnish the administration’s legacy of compassion at the expense of those they left behind without hope.  

There is one secret that most of us know, that the White House and the Pardon Attorney did not address.  That secret is that most nonviolent offenders who receive sentences of life without parole were charged with conspiracy and went to trial.  A conspiracy charge does not require definitive evidence, but only the testimony of those testifying for a plea or for part of the forfeiture.  If you exercise your sixth amendment right to trial you receive the trial penalty.  This charge allows the Prosecutor to tell the story.

In the spring of 2016 at a White House Briefing, it was obvious to many of us that the promise of clemency was waning and The Administration was pivoting to reentry as the major emphasis for time and money.  

The White House would not pay attention to any effort to expedite the clemency project by granting clemency to categories of inmates.  Many individuals and groups implored them to take this approach so that they would not fail the thousands who placed their trust in their concept of mercy.  The White House and Justice Department did not seem to even understand the concept as it had been used in the past.  Heels were dug in, and fates were sealed. 

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Life For Pot - Commutation

Life For Pot - Commutation: Life for pot commutation john knock, craig cesal, paul free, antonio bascaro, larry duke, billy dekle, jeff mizanskey, Life for Pot marijuana, clemency, commutation,

Life for Pot talks about the failure of Clemency Project 2014.