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New Opportunities Created for Clemency and Commutation of Sentences

Posted by Seth Chazin | May 12, 2014 | 0 Comments

As part of recent efforts to reduce the federal prison population, the United States Department of Justice has created new criteria for filing for clemency and sentence commutation, making it easier for nonviolent federal prisoners to receive clemency or a commutation of their sentence. The new criteria will help the Justice Department identify federal prisoners who may be able to have their prison sentence reduced, potentially making them eligible for immediate release. This is a way to restore justice to those individuals that do not pose a threat to the public. The Justice Department is purportedly seeking to consider the petitions of as many qualified applicants as possible.

Based on the new clemency requirements, federal prisoners must meet the following criteria in order to file for  clemency. They must:

• be serving a federal sentence;

• be serving a sentence that, if imposed today, would be substantially shorter;

• have a non-violent history with no significant ties to organized crime, gangs or cartels;

• have served at least 10 years;

• have no significant prior convictions;

• and have demonstrated good conduct.

Clemency should not only be limited to these parameters because there are other federal prisoners who sentences are extremely harsh when considering the crimes for which they were convicted. Federal sentencing laws have broken up families and deprived the country of millions, if not billions, of dollars due to the cost of incarceration. Too many people have been locked up far too long for nonviolent crimes. These new criteria are a great step towards moving to reduce the federal prison population; however, many other options need to be explored in order to reduce the prison population and achieve true justice with regard to the fair sentencing of criminal defendants.

For more information on the Justice Department and their reasoning behind the new criteria, check out my blog:

About the Author

Seth Chazin

Seth P. Chazin has aggressively defended clients in thousands of felony and misdemeanor cases for over 30 years. He has extensive experience representing criminal defendants in federal and state court, while handling both state and federal appeals as well.


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“The death penalty is a lie, a misguided mistake born of anger and frustration. Capital punishment has become a perverse monument to inequality, to how some lives matter and others do not. It is a violent example of how we protect and value the rich and abandon and devalue the poor. The death penalty is a grim, disturbing shadow formed by the legacy of racial apartheid and bias against the poor that condemns the disfavored among us, but corrupts us all. It’s the perverse symbol elected officials use to strengthen their ‘tough on crime’ reputations and distract us from confronting the causes of violence. It is finally the enemy of grace, redemption and all of us who recognize that each person is more than their worse act.”
- Bryan Stevenson