Attorney General announces greater clemency for those in jail for drugs

In April 2014 Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the Obama Administration would formulate new guidelines for reviewing applications for clemency for those who are in prison for non-violent drug offenses. The announcement is a follow-up to Holder's statements in January 2014 indicated that the Justice Department would make efforts to increase the number of clemency applications.

New rules for clemency applications

The Attorney General's announcement is the latest in the Obama Administration's efforts to reform drug sentencing policy. The announcement comes four years after the 2010 Fair Sentencing Act, which was intended to reduce the inequalities in sentences people receive for convictions related to cocaine and for those related to crack, and about four months after the president commuted the sentences of eight people in federal prisons serving long sentences for convictions related to crack.

The Attorney General indicated that the Justice Department expected a massive influx of clemency applications and announced that the Office of the Pardon Attorney would be staffed with "potentially" dozens of new attorneys to help review the applications.

Clemency for non-violent drug offenders

Holder said that the new guidelines will focus on those who are serving longer sentences than they would have received if they were sentenced for the same convictions today, but would not be limited to just those people. The Attorney General indicated that the expanded guidelines were an effort to address the lengthy prison sentences of numerous people who were sentenced under drug offense sentencing laws that are now considered out-of-date.

The expanded guidelines will allow non-violent drug offenders with clean prison records who do not pose a threat to public safety to be released from prison sooner and give those people an opportunity to become productive members of society.

Holder also said that it is important for those who are incarcerated for drug offenses to be made aware of the opportunity to petition for clemency so that as many people as possible can take advantage of the opportunity to have their sentences reviewed.

Talk to an attorney

Even though the federal government is taking steps to make drug offense sentencing less draconian, people who are convicted of drug-related charges still face severe penalties. It is critical for those facing drug charges to have the aid of an experienced drug offense attorney to help minimize the impact that such charges can have on their lives. If you are facing drug offense charges, speak with a seasoned drug offense lawyer who can help defend your rights.