Holder says New Policy Makes More Convicts Eligible for Presidential Clemency

Attorney General Eric Holder speaks at a press conference on April 1, 2014 in New York. Andrew Burton—Getty Images
Attorney General Eric Holder speaks at a press conference on April 1, 2014 in New York.
Andrew Burton—Getty Images

Attorney General Eric Holder expects “thousands” of prisoners to apply for the reduced sentences as a result of new rules that would expand the pool of eligibility, a bid that would also lower the number of prisoners serving long sentences due to federal drug laws.

In a video released by the Department of Justice, Holder said they will expand the existing criteria government attorneys use to consider which offenders may be eligible for clemency. Later this week Deputy Attorney General James Cole will announce the new criteria, which Holder expects will lead thousands to apply to receive reduced sentences.

“This new and improved approach will make the criteria for clemency recommendation more expansive,” Holder said. “This will allow the Department of Justice and the president to consider requests from a larger field of eligible individuals.”

Throughout 2013, the Obama Administration began taking a piecemeal approach to reforming the nation’s drug laws as a part of Obama’s “Smart on Crime” initiative. In late 2013, Obama commuted the sentences of eight crack-cocaine offenders who had been serving lengthy sentences that would have been shortened under updated legislation. And last week, Obama commuted the sentence of another former drug prisoner whose sentence was lengthened as a result of a typo.

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Source: TIME | Maya Rhodan

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