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President Obama Commutes Sentences of 95 Federal Drug Offenders

Marine veteran Billy Dekle, 66, and Charlie Cundiff, 70, having been serving life sentences for marijuana conspiracy since 1990 and 1991 will be released as part of President Obama’s clemency plan, reported Mother Jones.

As Mother Jones reported last summer, at least 60 people have been sentenced to life without parole for pot crimes, sometimes with charges as insignificant as serving as go-betweens in minor pot deals involving undercover cops.

President Obama’s Christmastime clemency, over twice the number he granted last summer, is part of an effort to reduce the federal inmate population and provide relief to those harshly sentenced under the war of drugs.

While this clemency announcement is a step in the right direction, it is a far cry from the 10,000 prisoners former Attorney General Eric Holder promised would be released under the Obama administration.

For the dozens of other pot lifers, the 94,000 federal drug offenders, and the more than 35,000 inmates who have applied for clemency, this leniency announcement will be viewed with disappointment.

“For an activist like me who works with marijuana lifers and who has been working directly with these two men [Dekle and Cundiff], the news does not get much better than this,” said Cheri Sicard, former vice president of the CAN-DO Foundation.

“At the same time, I am deeply disappointed for the many marijuana lifers left behind. I am in regular contact with them and their families, and I know the anticipation that comes with waiting for the clemency announcements, as well as the subsequent devastating blow it is to not see their names on the list.”

MASS INCARCERATION AND WAR ON DRUGS

The United States, home to only about one-twentieth of the world’s population, has the highest incarceration rate in the world, holding almost a quarter of the world’s prisoners. Since the war on drugs began in the mid 1970s, the US prison population multiplied sevenfold while the population increased by only 50 percent.

Federal prisons hold approximately 200,000 people with nearly half incarcerated on drug offenses, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons’ data.

“…it’s a great day for those who won the lottery and one more disappointment for everyone in the pipeline who should be on the list and must suffer, wondering why the Grinch has stolen yet another Christmas…enough is enough,” said Amy Povah, President of CAN-DO Foundation.

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