Clemency Project 2014 needs your help to make criminal justice history – now.
Last year, Attorney General Eric Holder roundly criticized our nation’s reliance on incarceration. He declared that “[t]oo many people go to too many prisons for far too long for no good law enforcement reason.” Since then, the Department of Justice has been taking steps to build a smarter approach to crime by reducing our reliance on long prison sentences. Today, the Department is gearing up to do what it can to release prisoners who have been sentenced to unduly harsh prison terms. It is breathing new life into a seldom-used power of the President under Article II, sec. 2. This is the power of the President to commute (shorten) prison sentences.
Earlier this year, the Deputy Attorney General reached out to the nation’s lawyers, asking for help in identifying and representing, free of charge, federal prisoners who meet a special set of criteria. The Department, through its Pardon Attorney, is looking for prisoners who have served a decade or more for a non-violent offense, and who, if sentenced today, would receive a substantially shorter sentence due to changes in sentencing law or policy. Such changes are seldom made retroactive and prisoners are routinely passed over by reforms. You can read more about the initiative here.
Finally, there is a chance to right those wrongs.
The Clemency Project 2014 (website coming soon at http://www.clemencyproject.org) was formed to help the DOJ get the job done. We are screening prisoners, writing training materials, recruiting and training lawyers and getting the word out far and wide.
Clemency Project 2014 and the prisoners we are assisting need your help now.
Clemency Project 2014 is looking for twenty law students who can volunteer immediately (full- or part-time, here in Washington, D.C. or from your community). Volunteer law clerks will help us comb through the thousands of surveys filled out by federal prisoners asking us to find pro bono counsel who will in turn help them petition President Barack Obama for clemency. You will help us make sense of the information they send by using publicly available legal documents to clarify their answers. Your work will lay the foundation for clemency petitions for thousands of prisoners.
Send us a cover letter and resume and indicate how many hours you have to devote to the Project this summer to MPrice@famm.org. The subject line should read: Clemency Project 2014 Student Volunteer.