Criminal justice reform advocates and community members alike were handed a win this week in Maryland when Gov. Larry Hogan signed the Justice Reinvestment Act, but an op-ed published in today’s Baltimore Sun urges the next president to act more quickly on clemency efforts at the federal level.
Nkechi Taifa, Advocacy Director for Criminal Justice at the Open Society Foundations and Mark Osler, Robert and Marion Short Professor of Law at the University of St. Thomas acknowledge the two Democratic candidates – Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders – have good criminal justice reform ideas, but they “appear solely to depend on congressional action, rather than direct executive action.” Reliance on Congress could add years to clemency efforts, they said, compared to the more immediate power of the presidential pardon.
OSI supports the suggestion that the next president must to commit to clemency and address over-incarceration. Key priorities of OSI’s Criminal and Juvenile Justice Program focus on reducing mass incarceration as well as promoting fair justice systems that offer second chances. OSI has long supported clemency efforts in Maryland, including funding organizations like the Living Classrooms Foundation and Center for Urban Families that provide re-entry services to returning citizens being released from federal prisons under revised drug sentencing guidelines adopted by the U.S. Sentencing Commission in 2014.