A broad coalition of criminal justice reform advocates, former judges and prosecutors, and legal scholars urged President Obama today to expand the number of people eligible for clemency by considering commutations for broad categories of non-violent offenders. The coalition, which includes the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, JustLeadershipUSA, the Sentencing Project, #cut50, and the musician and activist John Legend, cited uncertainty surrounding the next administration’s commitment to criminal justice reform in urging President Obama to go beyond his current clemency initiative.
“While your administration continues to review individual petitions, we urge you to also determine that nonviolent offenders in certain extremely low-risk categories either deserve expedited review or should be granted clemency absent an individualized review,” the group wrote in the letter. “With time running short on your time in office, these steps would be a way for you to deliver lasting change for thousands of deserving individuals and their families.”
The group praised the president for his clemency initiative, through which he has commuted the sentences of over 1,000 incarcerated individuals, and urged him to consider several categories of individuals to whom he could grant sweeping commutations.
“With a stroke of your pen, you could change the lives of thousands of individuals and their families and write a legacy that will stand throughout history,” the group wrote. “We do not know whether the next president will support clemency efforts or criminal justice reform. But we do know that until January 20, you alone have the power to deliver both mercy and justice to those who deserve it.”
To read the full letter, download the PDF below.