Statement by Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole on the President's Clemency Decisions
“The president’s actions today in providing clemency to eight individuals who were sentenced under outdated and unfair laws sustains his commitment to bring fairness to our criminal justice system. While all eight were properly held accountable for their criminal actions, their punishments did not fit their crimes, and sentencing laws and policies have since been updated to ensure more fairness for low-level offenders. All eight of these individuals meet the criteria I laid out under the President’s direction when I announced the Clemency Initiative in April: they are all non-violent, low-level offenders who have no significant criminal history nor ties to gangs or organized crime. All have served at least 10 years in prison with good conduct while incarcerated, and all would have gotten lesser sentences if convicted of the same crimes today."
“As I have said many times, for our criminal justice system to be effective, it needs to not only be fair; but it also must be perceived as being fair. That’s why we created the Clemency Initiative – in the hope of promoting that fundamental American ideal, equal justice under the law. The Justice Department will continue to identify applicants whom we can recommend to the president for commutation.”