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January 23, 2011

"President Obama: Why no clemency for Hamedah Hasan?"

The question in the title of this post is from the headline of this commentary from the Washington Times.  Here are excerpts:

More than two years into his term, President Obama has granted only nine pardon requests and no petitions for clemency, despite extremely strong candidates for the Presidential action....

Commuting a sentence is rare.  The public views a pardon, re-establishing rights such as voting after serving a sentence, as more palatable than granting commutation, because the individual has served out his sentence.  Commuting a sentence sometimes is seen as unjustly letting a criminal out of jail and overriding the judicial system....

One stand-out in the more than 3,000 requests for Presidential commutation is Hamedah Hasan, a mother and grandmother serving her 17th year of a 27 year federal prison sentence for non-violent crack cocaine conviction. She has no prior criminal record.

In 1991, Ms. Hasan was arrested for conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine, after three other known drug traffickers implicated her as the “manager” of the conspiracy to sell 5.9 kilograms of crack cocaine.  They received lighter sentences for their cooperation with authorities.  Police never found any drugs on Ms. Hasan, nor did they find any drugs in her house.  Despite repeated steak-outs, they did not observe her selling, using, or possessing drugs of any kind.

Mandatory federal sentencing guidelines put Ms. Hasan in jail for life.  The requirements at the time included a 100:1 ratio for crack cocaine to regular cocaine.  In other words, if you had one gram of crack, your punishment was equal to having 100 grams of cocaine. Changes in the Sentencing Guidelines later reduced her sentence to 27 years.

Ms. Hasan has applied for Presidential commutation of her sentence, and has received an outpouring of support.  The ACLU now represents Ms. Hasan due to the strength of her argument.  The application included more than 50 letters of support from community leaders, prison chaplains, advocates, friends and family. One letter is from the federal judge who sentenced Ms. Hasan, the Honorable Richard G. Kopf, U.S. District of Nebraska....

The petition includes additional objective information supporting commutation.  For example, If Ms. Hasan had been convicted of the same crime for the powder form of the drug, she would have already completed her sentence.  Of her 17 years in jail, she has an outstanding behavior and work performance record for 16 years.  So far, no one has publicly opposed Ms. Hasan’s release. Ms. Hasan’s commutation petition materials are available here: www.dearmrpresidentyesyoucan.org

Further justification for Ms. Hasan’s petition comes from the Obama administration itself, which has stated that the crack sentencing guidelines are too harsh.  Shortly after taking office, President Obama published his “Blueprint for Change,” in which he stated, “...the disparity between sentencing crack and powder-based cocaine is wrong and should be completely eliminated."  Moreover, last year, President Obama signed the Fair Sentencing Act, in an effort to change those laws.  Although political bargaining made it impossible to eliminate the disparity completely, the new law did reduce the disparity from 100:1 to 18:1.  It did not, however, apply to individuals already sentenced under previous crack guidelines.

Despite the strong rational for Presidential clemency, Ms. Hasan remains in jail.  The only person who can rectify the wrong is President Obama....  President Obama, please do your best. Grant clemency to Ms. Hasan and the others who deserve it. No one else can.

January 23, 2011 at 09:45 AM | Permalink


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Ha. Ha. Ha. A man named Barack Hussein Obama has become part of the "just us" system that he warned about when he was debating at Howard University.

Looks to me that this woman may be a candidate for clemency though. I have often stated in these pages that the pardon power needs to be exercised in a regime of tough sentencing. That Obama has not done so, after his yapping about the justice system generally, shows what a fundamentally dishonest character he is.

Posted by: federalist | Jan 23, 2011 10:06:27 AM

"fundamentally dishonest character." Heh.

Posted by: Ohio PD | Jan 23, 2011 11:44:20 AM

"Steak-outs"? Was there a picnic?

Posted by: Allan | Jan 23, 2011 11:45:26 AM

Amnesty or clemency for non-violent drug offenders as a class after ten years incarceration could be considered, of course they must have no violent priors. This could be modeled on amnesty for those who violated the selective service act during the Carter administration, or the amnesty granted to undocumented workers during the Regan administration.

This would save billions of dollars and would not impact public safety.

Posted by: beth | Jan 23, 2011 1:02:02 PM

Great article, I think you covered everything there. . . I would say freelancing is quite hard especially if you are not used to working on your own, can be quite hard to motivate yourself also. . . we all know what it is like to stare at the monitor.

Posted by: Bears jerseys | Jan 23, 2011 8:38:18 PM

Allan --

I'll bring the chips.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Jan 23, 2011 10:21:00 PM

Thank you very much for keeping me up to date.

Posted by: Health Blog | Jan 26, 2011 7:14:20 AM

Bonjour, JE suis à la recherche de matériel dentaire, telque: Cire à modeler, dent résine et porcelaine, alginate, etc. 100Z

Posted by: Turbine dentaire | Jun 27, 2012 11:02:17 PM

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