Josephine Ledesma became a first-time nonviolent drug perpetrator who in no way even used or bought tablets but nevertheless acquired an obligatory minimum sentence of existence in prison for the duration of the Nineties. She served greater than 24 years in federal prison before receiving clemency from President Barack Obama in 2016. She now has a very good task and is devoted to, as she says in her very own words, “making up for all the time my kids did now not get to spend with me by using being the nice grandmother within the international.”
Josephine’s tale is not unique. Our criminal justice gadget is damaged. Today we know that our country has more than 20% of the sector’s incarcerated human beings, even though we’ve got much less than five% of the world’s populace. And we know racial disparities at each stage of our machine have eliminated tens of millions of people of coloration from our society, destroying households and communities for generations.
Thanks to the work of countless reform advocates, we’ve got sooner or later began to acknowledge that there’s racism in our crook justice machine and that we need to take action to combat it. But the subsequent president will do extra than simply communicate about these troubles. She will need to take action.
Our crook justice gadget can’t lose sight of the principles of equity and compassion — for sufferers, sure, however also for offenders. Our Founding Fathers understood this factor after they gave the president the electricity to provide clemency, inclusive of the one Obama granted Josephine.
As president, I could create a clemency advisory board in addition to a role within the White House — outside of the Department of Justice — that advises the president from a crook justice reform attitude.
Law professors inclusive of Rachel E. Barkow from New York University and Mark Osler from the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota have described what a better clemency machine ought to appear to be. Currently, the Department of Justice includes an Office of the Pardon Attorney, tasked with investigating and reviewing all requests for clemency for federal offenses and ultimately getting ready a recommendation for the president. Although the voices of our prosecutors and police officers are critical and ought to retain to endorse the president, there are extra voices that a president desires to pay attention.
A numerous, bipartisan clemency advisory board — one which consists of victim advocates in addition to prison and sentencing reform advocates — should look at this from a one-of-a-kind perspective. And a criminal justice reform proposes within the White House will ensure that a person is advising the president on crook justice reform. That’s why I’m committed to creating these critical modifications all through the primary month of my presidency, should I be elected.