The Federal Bureau of Prisons has asked individuals who are eligible to apply for clemency. This comes after the Biden administration granted presidential relief to individuals on home confinement for federal drug convictions. Individuals with drug convictions who had almost four years left to complete their sentences entered into home confinement under the CARES Act.
In an interview, Weldon Angelos, whose cannabis-related conviction was pardoned by former President Donald Trump in 2020, stated that in recent days about 1,000 individuals had been asked to report to their designated halfway houses to fill out clemency forms. Angelos is working with the Biden administration on criminal justice reform.
More than 8,000 federal inmates were permitted to briefly transition to home confinement during the coronavirus pandemic in 2020. However, the Justice Department has issued a memo which notes that most of the inmates would be required to go back behind bars once the health crisis was contained.
This decision, which was made under the Trump administration, doesn’t appear to be in line with the Biden Administration, which seems to be looking for ways to keep some individuals with drug convictions from having to return to prison.
During a briefing last week, the White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki was asked about the Federal Bureau of Prisons action. Despite deferring to the Justice Department for answers, Psaki did note that the president was open to using clemency powers. Representatives of the Justice Department and the Federal Bureau of Prisons are yet to provide clarification on the matter.
Additionally, it remains unclear who will be eligible for clemency. Some advocates feel that on this latest development, the Biden Administration has lacked transparency. In a previous briefing in August, Psaki stated that President Joseph Biden was exploring different avenues to offer relief to nonviolent drug offenders.
Psaki explained that the administration was working to reform the country’s justice system in an effort to boost the economy, strengthen families and give individuals a chance at a better future. She noted that Biden was committed to reducing incarceration and helping individuals to re-enter society successfully, adding that the president had said that too many individuals who were incarcerated were people of color.
Clemency actions Biden could take include pardoning individuals whose records affect their ability to vote, obtain employment or participate in the society, and commuting the sentences of people who are currently on home confinement or incarcerated.
Proponents of cannabis policy reform have always cited racial disparity in enforcing the prohibitionist marijuana laws, and the move to grant clemency to some convicts on marijuana-related charges is a welcome development to such activists. The entire sector, including American Cannabis Partners, would also benefit immensely once prohibition is ended and the entire country opened to the marijuana industry under federally formulated guidelines.
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