ACLU Files Commutation Petition On Behalf Of Man Serving Unjust Prison Sentence For Non-Violent Crime
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|> THE PEOPLE
the stories behind the sentences
|> THE ISSUE
the unjust crack-powder cocaine sentencing disparity
|> THE PRESIDENT
the power of forgiveness
The President of the United States has the unique and absolute power to commute the sentence of any federal prisoner.
This means the President can send Hamedah Hasan home today.
After going nearly two years without granting a single pardon or commutation making him one of the slowest-acting Presidents in history to exercise his power of forgiveness President Obama issued nine pardons in December 2010. Six of the nine people pardoned had only served probation for their convictions. The President has not yet acted on Hamedah Hasan's petition for commutation of her ongoing sentence.
Executive clemency has historically been a robust feature of presidential leadership. Thomas Jefferson employed the pardon power to eliminate the sentences of those convicted under the shameful Alien and Sedition Acts. President John F. Kennedy granted over 100 commutations in less than three years in office. President Lyndon Johnson commuted 226 sentences.
The time has come for President Obama to exercise his power of forgiveness and bring Hamedah Hasan home.
The power to commute sentences is granted to the President in Article II, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution. Unlike in judicial proceedings, the executive clemency power is exercised by the President and the President alone. It requires no hearing, no trial and no jury. Presidents grant clemency to prisoners based solely on forgiveness, not a finding of innocence.
The only prisoners eligible for executive clemency are those who have exhausted every remaining judicial remedy available, such as Hamedah Hasan. Prisoners must formally petition the President, via the U.S. Department of Justice's Pardon Attorney, to commute their sentences. They must acknowledge their guilt, demonstrate their rehabilitation and ask for mercy.
Hamedah Hasan has asked President Obama to exercise his unique and absolute clemency power so that she can go home to her three children after having spent over 16 years in prison for a non-violent crack cocaine offense.
Dear Mr. President,
It is with the utmost respect that I am writing you this letter. My only wish is that it were under better circumstances. My name is Hamedah Hasan. I am a 42 year old mother and grandmother currently serving my 17th year into a 27 year federal prison sentence for crack cocaine related offenses. I am a first time, non-violent offender, and I am asking you to exercise your executive authority and commute the remaining six years of my sentence. As the law currently stands I have no other legal recourse.
When I was 21 years old I found myself in a horridly abusive relationship with a man whom at one point I loved more than my own self. My self-esteem, as I now understand, was non-existent... [Read more >>]
> www.usdoj.gov/pardon - An official description of eligibility and guidance on the executive clemency process
> "The Politics of Forgiveness: Reconceptualizing Clemency" (pdf)Federal Sentencing Reporter article by Rachel E. Barkow describing the extent to which presidential exercise of the clemency power has atrophied and needs to be restored.
> "Reviving Presidential Clemency in Cases of 'Unfortunate Guilt'" (pdf)Federal Sentencing Reporter article by Daniel T. Kobil providing a useful historical lens for understanding the politics behind the presidential clemency process.
> www.pardonpower.com - The go-to blog for everything related to the pardon process, with daily updates and commentary.
> www.candoclemency.com - CAN-DO is a nonprofit foundation that advocates Clemency for All Non-violent Drug Offenders.