Target: President Barack Obama
Goal: Encourage President Obama to continue pushing for reforms to unjust and racially discriminatory mandatory minimum sentencing laws
President Obama commuted the sentences of eight people who were sentenced under mandatory minimum sentencing laws for crack cocaine. These sentencing laws gave tens of thousands of black people far more severe and lengthy prison terms than the penalties for those, typically white people, caught with powder cocaine.
Luckily, the severe disparity between the two was lessened in 2010 by the Fair Sentencing Act, which Obama signed into law. The eight drug offenders whose sentences were commuted were sentenced prior to the signing of the law. Obama said in a written statement, “If they had been sentenced under the current law, many of them would have already served their time and paid their debt to society.” The White House will work with Congress in 2014 to make the Fair Sentencing Act retroactive. However, there are many more like these eight who are deserving of sentence commutation.
Over 100,000 people are serving time for nonviolent drug offenses through what manifests as institutional racism. As Rand Paul (R-KY) noted this past September, “The majority of illegal drug users and dealers nationwide are white, but three-fourths of all people in prison for drug offenses are African American or Latino.”
Sign the following petition to thank Obama for commuting the eight drug sentences and for pushing retroactivity for the Fair Sentencing Act, and also to encourage him to commute more nonviolent drug offenders.
Dear President Barack Obama,
Thank you for commuting the sentences of the eight drug offenders charged under crack cocaine minimum sentencing laws. Thank you, too, for continuing to fight the effects of institutional racism by pushing for retroactivity in the Fair Sentencing Act.
In addition to the positive steps these actions take towards equality, fairer sentencing plans and commutations reduce government expenses and seem to be something that Democrats and Republicans can agree on.
Many lives can be changed by this effort. You have the power to change many more by pardoning or commuting the sentences of many of the over 100,000 nonviolent drug offenders serving time. At least several thousand of these offenders must be eligible for pardon or clemency. Please pardon nonviolent drug offenders while continuing to reform the drug laws.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: US Army on Flickr