The Justice Department announced new rules recently that would potentially make thousands of federal inmates eligible for presidential grants of clemency, including a requirement that candidates must have served at least 10 years of their sentences and have no history of violence.
The six conditions announced by Deputy Attorney General James Cole, ban inmates with ties to criminal gangs, organized crime groups and drug cartels, and are designed to broaden access to early release for non-violent offenders who were sentenced to long prison terms under mandatory minimum-sentencing policies.
Up to 13 percent of the federal prison system’s 216,000 inmates have served 10 years or more, but not all would qualify for consideration, based largely on their criminal histories.
Eligibility requirements include:
- Inmates whose sentences would be substantially lower if convicted of the same offenses today because of changes to the sentencing structure.
- Inmates who have demonstrated good conduct in prison.
- Inmates with no history of violence before or during their term of imprisonment.
“Let there be no mistake, this clemency initiative should not be understood to minimize the seriousness of our federal criminal law,” the deputy attorney general said. “Our prosecutors and law enforcement agents worked diligently and honorably to collect evidence and charge these defendants and then fairly and effectively obtained their convictions. … However, some of them, simply because of the operation of sentencing laws on the books at the time, received substantial sentences that are disproportionate to what they would receive today.”
Cole said most eligible applicants would probably be drug offenders, other offenders could qualify if they meet the new requirements, including so-called career criminals.
Recently, the U.S. Sentencing Commission voted to reduce sentencing guideline levels applicable to most federal drug offenders.
The commission estimated that 70 percent of federal drug trafficking defendants would qualify for the change, and their sentences would decrease an average of 11 months, or 17 percent, from 62 months to 51.
The applications that need to be filled out to apply for clemency are not particularly long or difficult to understand, however you will benefit by enlisting the help of a Florida Criminal Defense Lawyer at Whittel & Melton who is experienced in these matters. It can be difficult for you to know what facts should be presented and what is the best way to highlight them. Our Criminal Defense Lawyers can help you develop an argument for commutation based on you receiving a disparate sentence. Call us today for a free consultation at 866-608-5529 or contact us online.