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Biden Commutes Sentences of 31 Individuals With Nonviolent Drug Offenses

Biden Grants Clemency to 31 Nonviolent Drug Offenders

The White House has announced that President Joe Biden will grant clemency to 31 individuals who were convicted of nonviolent drug offenses. This move is part of the Biden administration’s plan to help incarcerated individuals successfully reintegrate into society, which includes reducing barriers to voting and more.

Offenses Committed

The offenses committed by these individuals include possession and distribution of methamphetamine, heroin, marijuana, and cocaine, as well as conspiracy to distribute these drugs and possession of a firearm during and in relation to a drug trafficking crime.

The White House said that these individuals, who have been successfully serving sentences on home confinement, have demonstrated a commitment to rehabilitation, including by securing employment and advancing their education.

First Step Act

While commutations don’t eliminate convictions, the White House said that many of the recipients would have received lower sentences if they were convicted today due to criminal justice reforms, including the First Step Act. This act was passed by Congress and signed into law by former President Donald Trump in 2018.

The clemency recipients will be under home confinement until the commutations go into effect on June 30, after which they will be on supervised release.

Rehabilitation Plan

The clemency is part of the Biden administration’s broader plan to improve rehabilitation in jails and prisons, support successful reentry, and strengthen public safety by releasing an “Alternatives, Rehabilitation, and Reentry Strategic Plan.”

The plan includes more than 100 policy actions to improve the criminal justice system, such as expanding access to healthcare, secure housing, educational opportunities, and job opportunities while also reducing barriers to voting.

Empowering Communities

According to Susan Rice, Biden’s chief domestic policy adviser who will step down in May, the clemencies disclosed on Friday are part of a larger initiative focused on prisoner reentry and rehabilitation.

Rice told reporters that sentences should “reflect the seriousness of the crime” and provide a chance at “meaningful rehabilitation” and reentry to society.

“Leaders on both sides of the aisle have recognized that these steps are not just the right thing to do,” she said. “They’re the smart thing to do to make our communities safer and stronger, to empower people, communities, our economy, and our nation as a whole.”

Voting Rights

The White House claimed that most people in jail are eligible to vote and noted the Department of Justice released a guide in May 2022 about state voting rules that apply after criminal convictions that “will provide guidance on state-specific voter rights for incarcerated persons and promote strategies to reduce barriers to voting.”

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