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OK Commutes and Frees More Than 400 Inmates

In the largest one-day commutation of sentences in U.S. history, Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt commuted the sentences of 500 plus inmates, more than 400 of whom were released today.

The commutations were the result of Oklahoma's passage of H.B. 1269, which made retroactive a 2016 law SQ70, reducing drug felonies to misdemeanors.

Here is a photo of some of the 55 women freed today leaving prison with smiles. And another photo, both courtesy of the OK Department of Corrections. The women were greeted by the Governor and his wife as they left the prison.

We need more stories like this.

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Trump Commutes Alice Johnson's Sentence

Donald Trump has commuted the life sentence of Alice Marie Johnson, who came to his attention through Kim Kardashian, who learned of Johnson on Twitter.

As Kevin Drum writes at Mother Jones, while Johnson should have her sentence commuted, Trump is not due any praise for this.

Just in case anyone is tempted to praise Trump for this, please don’t. Sure, Johnson deserved to have her sentence commuted in some way, and I’m happy for her personally. But Trump has turned the pardon power into a cynical PR tool and this is just more of the same. The pardon power isn’t meant to be a lottery played out at the whim of a man-child in the White House who’s discovered a shiny new toy.


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OJ Simpson: Let Him Be

Update: He'll live in Las Vegas for the "forseeable future," says the Nevada Dept. of Corrections.

O.J. Simpson has been released from prison on parole. He served 9 years before being granted parole. He received no special treatment while in prison or while being considered for parole. My view: Let him be. He's done his time for the robbery and related crimes for which he was convicted and sentenced. He's earned his freedom.

It's not clear where he will be living. It seems like it will be California or Florida, but for now he's in Nevada.

Tom Scotto, a close Simpson friend who lives in Naples, Florida, said by text message he was with Simpson following his release. Scotto did not respond to questions about where they were going or whether Simpson’s sister, Shirley Baker of Sacramento, California, or his daughter, Arnelle Simpson of Fresno, California, were with him.

Here are his parole conditions.

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, a Trump devotee who has been tweeting about her recent visits to the Oval Office doesn't want him in Florida. What grounds are there to refuse Nevada's request for the transfer? None, as far as I can tell. [More...]

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Haiti Holds Mass Funerals for Inmates Who Died From Prison Conditions

This is the most horrible story I've read this year, although it's only February. It's inconceivable that such disgusting prison conditions could exist anywhere in the world.

Relatives wailed in grief or stared stoically as flowers were placed on 20 caskets at a mass funeral Tuesday for the latest group of inmates who died miserably in Haiti's largest prison, most without ever having been convicted of any crime.

The BBC has photos of the disgusting squalid cells. [More...]

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Obama Commutes Another 92 Sentences

Thank you President Obama. Another 72 inmates received commutations of their sentences today, bringing his 8 day total to 172 and !

President Obama on Friday commuted the sentences of 72 inmates, the latest sign he is accelerating his clemency push during his final months in office.

It was the second time in the past eight days the White House announced that a large group of people, most convicted of nonviolent drug offenses, would be released from federal prison. The two batches totaled 170 inmates.

In total, 944 people have had their sentences cut short by Obama — more than the last 11 presidents combined — with 760 receiving commutations this year alone.

Please keep them coming!

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President Obama Commutes 102 More Prison Sentences

President Obama today commuted the sentences of 102 inmates, bringing the number of commutations this year to 590 and 774 in total during his presidency. Here are their names and a brief description of their original sentences.

President Obama granted clemency to 102 inmates on Thursday, as he continues to release federal inmates serving long prison terms for nonviolent drug offenses. Obama has now commuted the sentences of 774 federal inmates, more than the previous 11 presidents combined.

With 590 commutations this year, the president has commuted more individuals’ sentences in one year than in any single year in U.S. history, White House officials said.

Obama's approval ratings are at the highest level of his second term. [More...]

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Obama Commutes 214 More Sentences

President Obama today commuted 214 more federal sentences, bringing his total to 564, more than the previous 9 presidents combined.

67 of today's commutations went to those serving life sentences with no chance of release. To date, he has commuted 197 life sentences. (Some were commuted to 30 years, not time served.)

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Obama Commutes 58 More Drug Sentences

President Obama commuted 58 sentences today. 57 of the 58 inmates are drug offenders.

His statement is here. He called for Congress to reform unjust mandatory minimum sentences.

While I will continue to review clemency applications, only Congress can bring about the lasting changes we need to federal sentencing. That is why I am encouraged by the bipartisan efforts in Congress to reform federal sentencing laws, particularly on overly harsh mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent drug offenses. Because it just doesn’t make sense to require a nonviolent drug offender to serve 20 years, or in some cases, life, in prison. An excessive punishment like that doesn’t fit the crime. It’s not serving taxpayers, and it’s not making us safer.

This brings Obama's total number of commutations, to 306, which he says is more commutations than the last six presidents combined.

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DOJ Tells States to Ease ID Requirements for Ex-Inmates

The Department of Justice has issued a directive to states telling them to make it easier for those leaving prison to get ID cards. It's part of a broader new initiative to make it easier for felons leaving prison to re-enter society. The initiative is called Roadmap to Re-entry.

The AP reports: [More...]

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Parole Board Recommends Parole for Leslie van Houten

Is the 20th time the charm for former Charles Manson follower Leslie van Houten, imprisoned since 1969 for the La Bianca murders? The parole board in California today agreed to recommend she be granted parole. Although she has been a minor inmate, her prior 19 requests were denied. The final decision will be up to Gov. Jerry Brown.

I've supported her parole here on TalkLeft since 2002. [More..]

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Obama Ends Solitary for Juveniles in Federal Prisons

Here is President Obama's op-ed in today's Washington Post explaining why he has ordered the end of solitary confinement for juveniles in federal prisons.

Here is the Justice Department report on the effects of solitary confinement -- Obama says he adopted its recommendations. The report has 50 guiding principles. Obama writes:

The Justice Department has completed its review, and I am adopting its recommendations to reform the federal prison system. These include banning solitary confinement for juveniles and as a response to low-level infractions, expanding treatment for the mentally ill and increasing the amount of time inmates in solitary can spend outside of their cells. These steps will affect some 10,000 federal prisoners held in solitary confinement — and hopefully serve as a model for state and local corrections systems. And I will direct all relevant federal agencies to review these principles and report back to me with a plan to address their use of solitary confinement.


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Giudice Leaves Prison, Downey Gets a A Pardon

Real Housewives Star Teresea Giudice, has served a year for tax fraud, and left Danbury yesterday and went home. (I guess she was able to bypass the Halfway House.)

Gov. Jerry Brown gave Robert Downey Jr. a Xmas Eve gift of a pardon.

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