Joe Biden will issue the first pardons of his presidential term on Tuesday, in addition to reducing dozens of prison sentences and launching criminal justice reform initiatives. In comparison to the 2.1 million people incarcerated currently in County, State and Federal prisons and jails its a pathetic drop in a bucket.
The president will pardon three people and will commute the sentences of an additional 75 others, many of whom were convicted of non-violent drug offenses, as part of his executive action on the issue.
Betty Jo Bogans, 51, will be pardoned after being convicted in Texas in 1998 of possessing crack cocaine with the intent to distribute the substance. For attempting to carry cocaine for her partner, Bogans was apprehended and sentenced to seven years in prison.
Dexter Jackson, 52, is receiving a pardon after being convicted in 2002 of allowing cannabis distributors to use his pool hall.
In addition, Vice President Joe Biden is pardoning Abraham Bolden, 86, who was the first African-American to be assigned to a president’s Secret Service detail, guarding John F. Kennedy.
Bolden was found guilty of attempting to sell classified government material, but one of the major witnesses in his trial revealed that he had lied at the direction of the prosecution. In the midst of it all, Bolden has maintained his innocence.
During the announcement of the clemencies, Vice President Joe Biden stated, “America is a nation of laws and second chances, redemption and rehabilitation.”
Our criminal justice system can and should reflect these essential principles that enable safer and stronger communities, according to elected officials on both sides of the aisle, church leaders, civil rights advocates, and law enforcement professionals.
As a result of the Covid-19 outbreak, several people who obtained reduced sentences from Biden were forced to serve their sentences under house arrest.
As a result of a bipartisan sentencing reform measure passed during the Trump administration in 2018, many of individuals who were granted commutations would have received reduced sentences if they had been convicted today.
The White House also unveiled a variety of new reentry programs and regulations for persons who are incarcerated or who have already been released, including a $145 million job training program at federal prisons, as well as new immigration laws.
“Helping those who served their time return to their families and become contributing members of their communities is one of the most effective ways to reduce recidivism and decrease crime,” said Biden.
However, many criminal justice reform advocates believe that Biden’s pronouncements fall short of their expectations, with organizers pressing for a broader commutation of sentences for non-violent drug offenses and the release of more people who have previously been convicted of crimes.
As clemency announcements have been made, the Biden administration has also come under fire from Congress for the maltreatment of those who are detained by the federal Bureau of Prisons throughout their time in prison.
When he announced his candidacy for president in 2020, Biden pledged to reduce the number of people in prison and send those convicted of non-violent drug offenses to treatment and drug court programs.
He also vowed to address racial and economic disparities in the US prison population, issues that he played a role in creating through the 1994 crime bill that he oversaw while serving as Senate judiciary chair at the time of his election.
Many criminal justice professionals believe that the crime bill was a contributing factor to the severe and unequal sentencing of Black individuals in the United States. Unfortunitely, it’s looking more and more like this is the only criminal justice reform that we will be seeing for some time.
The prison population in the United States continues to be the greatest in the world. Despite having a population of less than 5% of the world’s total, the United States is home to one-fifth of all jailed persons.