Statement from #cut50 National Director Jessica Jackson Sloan:
“With this last act of mercy, President Obama has closed out a historic effort to restore some balance and fairness to a federal prison system that has caused needless destruction of thousands of lives and families.
“We continue to waste our precious resources to lock up people who have committed drug-related crimes that do not warrant decades, and certainly not life, in prison.
“There are still too many people incarcerated in the federal system who are not a threat to public safety. In fact, they would be assets, mentors, and leaders in their communities if they were given the chance to come home.
“We urge Congress to move forward in passing bipartisan reforms that are fair and make our communities safer. When the Fair Sentencing Act was passed in 2010, it reduced the disparity between crack cocaine and powder cocaine, but did not apply this retroactively. There are literally thousands of people sitting in prison who would never have gotten this same sentence today. We need to bring their sentences in line with current law.”
“Clemency can and should continue to play an important role in ensuring that justice is administered smartly and equally. We hope President Trump will continue granting mercy to families desperately seeking to be reunited with their loved ones.”
(LEFT) Annie Fray, mother of Trent Copeland received clemency 1/17/2017 // (RIGHT) Veda Ajamu, sister of Robert Shipp serving his 23rd year of 30 year sentence and denied Clemency by President Obama. Photo taken at #cut50's #ClemencyNOW event, December 2016.
Statement from #cut50 #clemencyNOW Campaign Director and clemency lawyer Brittany Byrd:
“Today President Obama saved Trenton Copeland’s life with clemency. Trenton was just 28 years old when he was sentenced to life in prison without parole -- a virtual death sentence-- for a nonviolent drug offense. Trenton’s mom cried tears of pure joy when I told her the news, and we are thrilled that now because of President Obama’s actions, they will be reunited. While our hearts still break for the thousands of families that the Obama Administration denied or failed to process for unknown reasons over the last few months, we will not give up this fight for clemency under the new administration.”
About half of the people in federal prison are serving time for drug convictions, the vast majority of whom had no prior criminal history.
If most of the individuals granted clemency were sentenced today, they would have received drastically shorter sentences.
When President Obama came into office, the U.S. had gone through an astounding 700% rise in the federal prison population over the previous 30 years. President Obama now leaves office with a smaller federal prison population than when he went in - the first time this has happened in nearly 35 years.
The administration received more than 35,000 petitions for clemency over the past eight years.
President Obama has denied more clemency requests than the past 13 presidents combined.