ACLU Responds to President Biden’s Clemency Announcement

April 24, 2024 2:00 pm

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WASHINGTON — President Biden today announced that his administration will pardon 11 people and commute the sentences of five people who received unjustly long sentences during the failed war on drugs.

More than 50 years after the war on drugs began, there are still over 360,000 people behind bars for a drug offense. An estimated 79 million Americans have a criminal record.

The announcement comes during Second Chance Month, a time to bring awareness to the scarcity of second chances in America’s criminal legal system. President Biden’s actions are an important step towards giving more people who were sentenced under disproportionate drug laws the second chance that they deserve. A majority of Americans support clemency, and we urge President Biden to continue to use his constitutional authority to heed the will of the people.

Cynthia W. Roseberry, director of the Justice Division at the American Civil Liberties Union, had the following reaction to today’s announcement:

“We applaud President Biden’s decision to grant clemency to individuals disproportionately sentenced under unjust drug policies. President Biden’s actions signal a critical acknowledgment of the need to remedy the systemic failures that have led to over-incarceration and massive racial disparities in our criminal legal system.

“We must continue to push for transformational change to our criminal legal system and shift from a system focused on punishment to one that provides opportunities for redemption. Giving people the support they need to thrive in their communities not only corrects the failed policies of the war on drugs, but it is the key to building safer and stronger communities for us all.”

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