More Drug War Commutations

Do I wish President Obama would commute more sentences? Of course. Is President Obama’s record on clemency still bad? Yes. Are oppressive laws with excessive punishment for violators still on the books, just waiting for authority figures to abuse? Obviously.

All that said, how can yesterday’s news not be applauded?

All the prisoners whose sentences were commuted yesterday are nonviolent drug offenders, 14 of whom nevertheless received life sentences. In two cases marijuana was the only drug involved; those prisoners received sentences of 20 years and 22 years, respectively, for cultivation and distribution. Seven cases involved cocaine powder, with sentences ranging from 20 years to life. One case, where the defendant received a 20-year sentence, involved methamphetamine as well as cocaine. Two involved unspecified “controlled substances.” But the vast majority of the prisoners—34 out of 46, three-quarters of the total—committed offenses involving crack cocaine, as did most of the prisoners who received commutations from Obama prior to yesterday.

More here.

Non-violent drug offenders get jail time. Violent police behavior rarely garners punishment. This needs to change.

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