Conyers, Jackson Lee Laud Additional Presidential Commutations
Conyers & Jackson Lee: Congress Must Pass Sentencing Reform
Washington, DC, October 28, 2016
House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI) and House Judiciary Crime Subcommittee Ranking Member Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) released the following statements after the White House announced the commutation of the sentences of 98 individuals this week:
“President Obama continues to demonstrate a strong commitment to addressing unfairness in our criminal justice system by commuting the sentences of 98 additional federal prisoners,” said Ranking Member Conyers. “It takes strong leadership to address this issue, and I’m proud to have a President that supports commutations for sentences that are too lengthy and which no longer serve a legitimate purpose related to public safety. I hope the President’s resolve on this issue will serve as an example to legislators in Congress and across the country as our nation works to reform our criminal justice system. I remain optimistic that, before the end of this year, Congress will pass sentencing reform legislation and other criminal justice reform bills that I have worked on with colleagues on both sides of the aisle.”
“I applaud President Obama’s commutation of sentences of 98 individuals – who were all victims of unjust sentencing,” said Crime Subcommittee Ranking Member Jackson Lee. “Nearly all of these men and women would have been released and contributing back to society already had they been convicted under today’s laws or reform proposals. I welcome and applaud the commutations of the sentences of these individuals. Incarcerating people for unwarranted lengths of time serves no constructive purpose. The President has recognized this, as has Attorney General Loretta Lynch, and I am pleased that the Administration’s Clemency Project continues to address the multitude of cases in which sentence reductions are appropriate. Of course, the need to engage in such a broad review of sentences exists largely because our sentencing laws and policies, particularly for drug offenses, urgently need to be changed. We need to eliminate mandatory minimum sentencing and let judges impose appropriate sentences based on the facts and circumstances of each case, and we should eliminate the higher penalties for crack cocaine relative to powder cocaine offenses. I am heartened that there is a growing, bipartisan recognition of the problem of over incarceration and I hope this will lead to sentencing reform this Congress.”
Congressman Conyers and Congresswoman Jackson Lee are cosponsors of the Sentencing Reform Act of 2015, which is the first bill that is a result of the House Judiciary Committee’s criminal justice reform initiative. The Sentencing Reform Act of 2015 reduces certain mandatory minimums for drug offenses, reduces the three-strike mandatory life sentence to 25 years, broadens the existing safety valve for low-level drug offenders, and provides judges with greater discretion in determining appropriate sentences.