Target: President Barack Obama
Goal: Grant Timothy Tyler clemency
In 1992, 25-year-old Timothy Tyler was given a life sentence without the possibility of parole for the sale of LSD to an undercover informant. Because of federal “three strikes and you’re out” laws, an illogically strict sentence based on previous convictions has Tyler, a nonviolent offender, facing the rest of his life in prison as rapists and other violent criminals come and go. This is Tyler’s first time in prison, as his two previous arrests ended in probation. Now 47, and after 22 years behind bars, he and his family are seeking clemency.
Under revised criteria the U.S. Justice Department is now using to review requests for clemency, Tyler has been given another chance. The department is attempting to reduce the number of prison inmates by making strict and outdated laws meet today’s sentencing standards. This could be used to grant clemency to those who would receive a much shorter sentence if they committed the same crime today. Under these new criteria, applicants must have served at least 10 years of their sentence and demonstrated good conduct as inmates. They must not have gang, cartel or other organized crime connections or a significant criminal history. Their sentence must also be markedly more severe than it would be by today’s standards.
Short of the injustice visited upon Tyler and countless others, “mandatory minimums”, which forced draconian sentences on offenders with multiple charges, have clogged our justice system and overloaded our penitentiaries. The average cost to taxpayers of keeping Tyler behind bars is estimated at around $45,000 per year.
Tyler still has a chance to rejoin society and live a productive life. In over two decades, he has more than paid for his crime and the American public has paid more than enough for his incarceration-$500,000 and counting. We have already made an example of him, let’s not make a further example of our botched criminal justice system. Urge President Barack Obama to grant Timothy Tyler clemency and end this inmate’s nightmare.
Dear President Obama,
Due to the “three strikes” law, Timothy Tyler was given a life sentence and has been incarcerated for over 20 years for the sale of LSD in 1992. Under the revised criteria offered by the U.S. Justice Department to reduce the number of nonviolent inmates in federal penitentiaries, Tyler has every right to be granted clemency.
Eight inmates who had been serving out sentences for the sale of crack cocaine have already been released as per the new criteria for applicants. Tyler has served twice the amount of time necessary to apply for clemency under the revision, if his crime were committed today, it is highly unlikely that he would face one life sentence, let alone two. Tyler has also exhibited good behavior as an inmate.
Now 47, Tyler has more than paid his debt to society. At an estimated $45,000 per year to imprison him, the American public deserves a return on its investment by allowing Tyler to be a contributing member of society. His youthful mistake has monopolized enough of his life.
I urge you to grant Tyler clemency immediately and unburden the justice system of one more disproportionately punished soul.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Matt Swern via Flickr