President is likely to break his record on commuting sentences of prisoners before he leaves office on Friday. Attorney General Loretta Lynch says sentencing policies failed to distinguish adequately between the drug kingpin and “the kid on the corner.”
Two brothers were convicted of federal drug charges and both sought clemency from President Obama. One got a commutation and is in a halfway house. The other still is in prison. When you have a [clemency] process that is vertical and goes through seven layers of review, you’re going to get aberrational results,” said law Prof. Mark Osler of the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota.
Judge William Pryor, rumored as a top candidate of President-elect Donald Trump for the Supreme Court, is named acting chair of the U.S. Sentencing Commission. The panel is two members short of a quorum.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) will again press for approval of a bill to cut some mandatory minimum sentences that failed to come to the floor last year. They hope to convince the Donald Trump administration of its merits.
The President set a new one-day record for taking pardon or commutation actions. He now has commuted the sentences of 1,176 federal inmates, mostly on drug charges. There were 1,937 pardon petitions and 13,042 commutation applications pending on Nov. 30.
The State Commission on Judicial Performance said Judge Aaron Persky’s six-month jail sentence of Stanford swimmer Brock Turner for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman was within the bounds of legal penalties. Persky’s opponents vow to continue seeking his removal from the bench.
Illinois Sen. Kwame Raoul, a successor to Barack Obama, will seek longer sentences for defendants who have committed previous gun crimes. Opponents say the move would mainly “demonize” young minority men, as did the war on drugs.
Investigation by the Sarasota Herald-Tribune finds wide racial disparities in sentencing despite a point system to calculate penalties that takes into account the severity of the crime, the defendant’s prior record, and other factors.