OUR NATION IS IN THE MIDST OF A MASS INCARCERATION CRISIS. MORE THAN 2.3 MILLION PEOPLE ARE INCARCERATED ACROSS THE COUNTRY—MORE PEOPLE PER CAPITA THAN ANY OTHER NATION IN THE WORLD.
Under the Constitution, the President has the power to grant clemency, but the current clemency process is inherently flawed, overly burdensome, lacks transparency and delays justice.
Currently, the process lies within the Department of Justice, where DOJ lawyers have the power to recommend clemency for the exact same people the Department prosecuted and incarcerated.
The significant reduction in the use of clemency in the past 20 years is a problem in our legal system and a contributing factor to the backlog of 15,000 pending clemency applications.
We must reimagine public safety and end the era of mass incarceration to manifest a vision of justice that centers healing and dignity. Clemency reform can help us get closer to this goal.
The FIX Clemency Act would create an independent Clemency Board made up of nine individuals appointed by the President, including a person who is formerly incarcerated. The Board would be responsible for reviewing applications requesting a pardon, commutation, or relief from collateral consequences of convictions. All recommendations by the Board will be transmitted directly to the President and included in an annual report to Congress.
HOW WILL THE FIX CLEMENCY ACT IMPROVE THE PROCESS?
Empowers people with relevant expertise, including in behavioral health and reentry services, to recommend individuals for clemency directly to the President;
Creates greater transparency in the clemency process by publicly disclosing Board activities and recommendations disaggregated by relevant characteristics, including age, gender identity, and type of offense;
Ensures the Board has the authority to review all relevant information related to an application;
Protects applicants for clemency from greater prosecution;
Allows defense lawyers to help their indigent clients apply for clemency;
Studies how United States Attorneys make decisions on charging and plea bargaining to end disparities that negatively impact marginalized communities; and
Researches how prisons and jails affect the psychological development of people who are incarcerated.
OVER 45,000 COLLATERAL CONSEQUENCES OF CONVICTIONS.
Voting Rights, Housing, Employment, Immigration, Government Benefits, Occupational Licensing
WHAT IS CLEMENCY?
The term ‘‘clemency’’ includes a full pardon, partial or full commutation of sentence, or remission of a fine or forfeiture, or restoration of civil and political rights.
WHAT ARE COLLATERAL CONSEQUENCES?
Collateral consequences are legal restrictions that limit or prohibit someone from accessing employment, housing, voting, educations and other rights and benefits due to a criminal conviction and regardless of whether a convicted person serves any time incarcerated.
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