ACLU Asks Obama to Pardon Puerto Rican Independence Activist

November 12, 2015 11:30 am

Media Contact
125 Broad Street
18th Floor
New York, NY 10004
United States

The American Civil Liberties Union today made a plea asking for a presidential pardon to commute the disproportionate sentence and order the release of Puerto Rican Independence activist Oscar López Rivera.

Mr. López-Rivera has served 34 years of his 70 year prison sentence, 12 of which were in solitary confinement, on charges of seditious conspiracy. Mr. López-Rivera is commonly referred to as Latin America’s Nelson Mandela, who himself was imprisoned on charges of seditious conspiracy and was released after serving 27 years of his sentence.

The is a nationwide nonprofit nonpartisan organization with a membership of more than 500,000 members of diverse political persuasions; all dedicated to defending and preserving the individual rights and liberties that the Constitution and the laws of the United States guarantee everyone in this country. Consistent with our longstanding commitment to just and fair sentencing, the ACLU strongly believes that Mr. López-Rivera’s disproportionate prison sentence serves no purpose consistent with merciful and compassionate justice.

In a November 12, 2015 letter to Deputy Attorney General Sally Quillian Yates, the ACLU explained that it is moved, not only by its own commitment to compassionate and just sentencing, but also by the consensus in Puerto Rico and Puerto Rican communities in the United States supporting Oscar López-Rivera’s immediate release; as well as that of others in the United States and internationally.

“An immediate commutation of Mr. López-Rivera’s sentence would be wholly consistent with the president’s expressed respect for the legacy of Mr. Nelson Mandela, himself imprisoned for 27 years on charges of seditious conspiracy,” wrote Anthony Romero and William Ramirez. The ACLU further stated that Mr. López-Rivera’s release would also be consistent with the President’s laudable launching of Clemency Project 2014 and the recognition that the constitutional power of pardon is the appropriate remedy to correct the injustice of disproportionate sentencing.

The letter is at:

By completing this form, I agree to receive occasional emails per the terms of the ACLU’s privacy policy.

The Latest in Smart Justice

ACLU's Vision

The American Civil Liberties Union is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States of America.

Learn More About Smart Justice

Smart Justice issue image

The ACLU Campaign for Smart Justice is an unprecedented, multiyear effort to reduce the U.S. jail and prison population by 50% and to challenge racism in the criminal legal system.