Attorney General Eric Holder Readying the DOJ to Free More People under the Fair Sentencing Act
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It is clear that the U.S. Attorney General regards many of those in prison as victims of systems with bias initiated by former governments. He said as much on Monday in a video posted on the US Department of Justice website indicating that the Department would soon be broadening the criteria of clemency applications for review by the President.
Holder informed that in anticipation of a flood of petitions for clemency, the Department is getting ready to assign lawyers to review fresh applications on more lenient criteria. The assigned attorneys would have backgrounds both in defense and in prosecution.
In substantiating his moves, Holder said, "The White House has indicated it wants to consider additional clemency applications, to restore a degree of justice, fairness and proportionality for deserving individuals who do not pose a threat to public safety," and "The Justice Department is committed to recommending as many qualified applicants as possible for reduced sentences."
According to the U.S. Attorney General, "there are still too many people in federal prison who were sentenced under the old regime - and who, as a result, will have to spend far more time in prison than they would if sentenced today for exactly the same crime."
"This is simply not right," he said.
Holder said that later this week, Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole would announce the new criteria to be considered by the department when sorting applications for clemency. He said, "This will allow the Department of Justice and the President to consider requests from a larger field of eligible individuals."
The Department of Justice expects to receive thousands of new applications for clemency once the broader criteria are in place, and possibly dozens of new lawyers would be required to handle those applications.
Summing up his initiative, Holder said, "We pay much too high a price whenever our system fails to deliver the just outcomes necessary to deter and punish crime, to keep us safe, and to ensure that those who have paid their debts have a chance to become productive citizens."
The expanded clemency system, he believes will promote public safety and deliver on the promise of equal justice under the law.
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