The Obama Clemency Project is a big Fail. The numbers involved are kind of staggering. There are over 2 million people in prison. Tens of thousands are qualified to at least have their records reviewed per the guidelines of Obama’s release program. The work has all been pro-bono. That means free lawyer work and staffing from colleges and universities. Like any good government run program,it is an abject failure. Only 187 prisoners have had their sentences commuted since the program began. Maybe the government should out source this. Oh, they did. I guess you get what you pay for.
Obama’s prisoner clemency plan faltering as cases pile up.
In April 2014, the administration of President Barack Obama announced the most ambitious clemency program in 40 years, inviting thousands of jailed drug offenders and other convicts to seek early release and urging lawyers across the country to take on their cases.
Nearly two years later the program is struggling under a deluge of unprocessed cases, sparking concern within the administration and among justice reform advocates over the fate of what was meant to be legacy-defining achievement for Obama.
More than 8,000 cases out of more than 44,000 federal inmates who applied have yet to make it to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) for review, lawyers involved in the program told Reuters. That is in addition to about 9,000 cases that are still pending at the DOJ, according to the department’s own figures.
Only 187 inmates have had their sentences commuted, far below the thousands expected by justice reform advocates and a tiny fraction of the 2.2 million people behind bars in the United States, which has the world’s highest incarceration rate.
The administration said it wanted to decide on all the applications before Obama’s term ends next January, when the program will automatically expire.
A senior DOJ official told Reuters it is calling on the lawyers’ group — Clemency Project 2014 — to simply hand over the outstanding cases without further vetting, saying it is not working fast enough. So far, the group estimates it has handed over around 200 cases.
But criminal justice experts say the administration itself should bear much of the blame. The idea to tap pro-bono attorneys to help vet the cases originated with the DOJ, and critics say it should have prepared its own staff to handle the large volume of applications.