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Women's History Month Spotlight

In honor of Women’s History Month 2024, the Office of the Pardon Attorney would like to shine a light on Serena Nunn McCullers, a rare recipient of double clemency. Ms. McCullers is an attorney, advocate, and community mentor who was granted both a commutation of sentence by President Clinton on July 7, 2000 and a full and unconditional pardon by President Obama on December 19, 2016.

Photo of Serena Nunn McCullers
Serena Nunn McCullers

Serena Nunn McCullers was 19 years old when she was arrested and charged in a 24-person Federal drug conspiracy. She was sentenced to 188 months’ imprisonment – the mandatory minimum sentence in effect at that time. After several years of incarceration, she was highlighted in the press as a young woman who received a lengthier sentence than her more culpable male codefendant. Her story caught the attention of a young California attorney who agreed to file a presidential commutation petition on her behalf, and after almost 11 years in prison, her petition, which was strongly supported by the judge who sentenced her, was granted.

Upon her release from prison, Serena obtained her undergraduate degree from Arizona State University and earned a law degree from the University of Michigan Law School; various letters of recommendation in support of her law school admittance were written by her sentencing judge and President Clinton. She was admitted to the Georgia State Bar in 2012 and proudly worked as a Public Defender in Atlanta until 2018. During that time, she applied for and was granted a presidential pardon, a rare occurrence of double clemency.

In her own words:

The commutation process was about my freedom. And ... the pardon process is about my future. This is the second round for me, but this time it's about redemption. Redemption hundreds of thousands of incarcerated and formerly incarcerated people deserve.

Serena Nunn McCullers

Serena is dedicated to advocacy and to working on initiatives designed to support reentry and mitigate the collateral consequences of incarceration. She also participates in events where she discusses topics relating to urban issues and criminal justice reform. Serena has authored an article in The Grio detailing her life after prison and after receiving a presidential pardon. Additionally, she is passionate about speaking to young adults and at-risk youth about the importance of decision-making.

Updated April 2, 2024