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January 18, 2011

ACLU spotlights another severe crack sentence in its commutation project

As detailed in this new press release, which is titled "ACLU Files Commutation Petition On Behalf Of Man Serving Unjust Prison Sentence For Non-Violent Crime," the ACLU has another "poster-child" case in its “Dear Mr. President, Yes You Can” project "which brings together civil rights advocates, legal scholars, law school clinics, pro bono counsel and others to urge President Obama to use his pardon and commutation power in a principled way, consistent with his administration’s position that the crack sentencing guidelines have been far too harsh."  Here are some excerpts from the ACLU press release:

The American Civil Liberties Union and the Los Angeles-based law firm Caldwell Leslie and Proctor, PC today asked President Obama to commute the remaining sentence of Kenneth J. Lumpkin, a father of four serving the 15th year of an unjust 20-year prison sentence for a non-violent offense.  Along with a commutation petition, the ACLU today filed with the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of the Pardon Attorney over 30 letters in support of commutation for Lumpkin, including several from staff members at the Taft Correctional Institution in California, the minimum security facility where Lumpkin is currently incarcerated....

Lumpkin is one of thousands of people in this country, a disproportionate number of whom are people of color, who have been given extremely long sentences under the sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine.  The Fair Sentencing Act passed by Congress last year reduced the disparity from 100-to-1 to 18-to-1 but did not fully eliminate it.

Had Lumpkin’s offense involved powder instead of crack cocaine — the same quantity of the same drug in a different form – his mandatory minimum sentence would have been 10 years instead of 20, he would have already served his entire sentence, he would have been there to watch his children graduate from high school and the birth of his first grandchild and he would have been able to help care for his mother, who is recuperating from a stroke she suffered several years ago....

Though Lumpkin’s excessive punishment as a result of the crack-powder sentencing disparity is not unique, his conduct while incarcerated has demonstrated a level of rehabilitation that officials at his correctional institution consider extraordinary. After being transferred several years ago from a medium security prison to a fenceless minimum security camp several years ago, Lumpkin has taken virtually all of the college courses available to him, teaches two art classes a week to fellow prisoners and leads them in a community mural painting project, is active in his Native American religious group, and is executive chairman of a group called Those Outspoken Against Drugs (TOAD), a select group of prisoners who speak to teenagers at local schools and juvenile halls about taking responsibility for one’s own actions, making good choices and the dangers of drugs.

Lumpkin’s conduct at the camp has earned the respect and sincere admiration of not only fellow inmates — both long-timers and those recently incarcerated — but also of members of the prison staff, including the Associate Warden, who have all written to declare their support for Mr. Lumpkin’s early release.

January 18, 2011 at 05:50 PM | Permalink


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I am not a legal professional. Simply a person who reads these blogs to learn about the legal system that obviously needs some fixing.
Why keep a wonderful person incarcerated when he has so much to offer society?

Posted by: Ed | Jan 19, 2011 10:30:17 PM

Thank you very much for keeping me up to date.

Posted by: Health Blog | Jan 26, 2011 8:10:32 AM

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