14,000 Federal Inmates Seek Clemency; Who Will Get It?

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Nichole Forde, a federal inmate serving 27 years for trafficking crack cocaine, seems unlikely to get a presidential pardon. Forde, 40, has no White House connection. No reality TV star has championed her life story of trying to overcome sexual abuse, drug addiction, mental illness, teenage motherhood and homelessness. Forde says she has been helped in prison by PTSD counseling and classes that are teaching her plumbing. Her clemency petition has languished at the Justice Department for four years, reports the New York Times. “I feel sad that not everyone has a fair and equal shot at a clemency,” Forde says. “I have just as much chance at hitting a Powerball number than getting a clemency.”

President Donald Trump recently granted clemency to dozens of people, among them his daughter’s father-in-law, his former campaign manager and a longtime friend. The vast majority of those who got pardons or commutations had either a personal or political connection to the White House. It appears that only seven were recommended by the federal pardon attorney. The government normally requires a person seeking clemency to wait at least five years after conviction or release from confinement, a rule that was not applied for some Trump cohorts. More than 14,000 federal convicts are awaiting word on their applications for clemency. “We just are hopeful that the president will extend the pardons to people who aren’t rich, wealthy and well-connected — and there’s certainly thousands of them,” said Holly Harris of the Justice Action Network. a bipartisan criminal justice reform organization. “There’s certainly still time for the president to use this extraordinary power to help people who are really struggling.” Kevin Ring of the criminal justice reform group FAMM is optimistic Trump would still consider the kind of people his group backs, such as Forde.

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