April 01, 2016

Clemency

President Obama announced the granting of clemency petitions March 30 to 61 federal prisoners, bringing his total number of commutations to 248 during his time in office. Twenty-five of those granted clemency in March had the assistance of volunteer lawyers recruited and trained through Clemency Project 2014, an effort involving the ABA and other legal organizations that was established in 2014 when Deputy Attorney General James Cole asked the legal profession to work to expand pro bono assistance to federal prisoners who would likely have received a shorter sentence if they had been sentenced today. Those qualifying for assistance through the project are non-violent, low-level offenders who are required to have served at least 10 years of their sentences, have no significant criminal history, demonstrated good conduct in prison, and have no history of violence prior to or during the current term of imprisonment. Since its inception, the project has recruited and trained nearly 4,000 volunteer lawyers and has completed the screening of nearly 30,000 of the more than 35,000 federal inmates who have requested the project’s assistance. In a March 30 statement, ABA President Paulette Brown said, “The ABA appreciates today’s commutations by President Obama, and we hope to see many more commutations as the petitions submitted by Clemency Project 2014 and its army of volunteer lawyers make their way through the application process to the president’s desk.”

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