It's Down to the Wire for Those Seeking Clemency from President Obama
Date:  09-15-2016

People in prison and their loved ones await the President’s decision as he spends final months in office
From Truthout

As Obama's presidency enters its final months, thousands of people imprisoned on federal drug sentences fervently hope he will grant them clemency. But family members, loved ones and those who have spent time behind bars are determined to help push as many people as possible out the prison doors before Obama leaves the Oval Office.

In August, their effort got two significant boosts. On August 3, 214 people in federal prisons across the country were called into their case managers' offices. There, they were told that the president had issued them clemency, meaning that their sentences had been commuted and they would soon be released from prison. It was the largest group of clemencies issued in one day since Gerald Ford's 1974 blanket amnesty for those who dodged the draft or deserted the military during the Vietnam War. Less than four weeks later, on August 30, another 111 people received the same news: their sentences had been commuted and they would be released soon.

In between those two dates, on August 8, thousands of others were called into their case managers' offices and told that their clemency applications had been denied . That denial means that they are unable to reapply for clemency for one year, by which time they will face the challenge of convincing not just the Office of the Pardon Attorney but also a newly elected president to give them another chance.

"I don't understand the logic of the denials," said Amy Povah, founder and president of CAN-DO Clemency, a national organization that advocates for clemency for people convicted of drug offenses. Issuing denials means that the president no longer has the option to grant that person clemency before leaving office, effectively leaving many to die in prison.

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