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April 28, 2023

Prez Biden commutes 31 federal sentences and releases "Alternatives, Rehabilitation, and Reentry Strategic Plan"

As reported in this new Washington Post piece, "President Biden commuted the sentences of 31 nonviolent drug offenders Friday as the White House rolled out a broad initiative that aims to bolster the “redemption and rehabilitation” of people previously incarcerated through greater access to housing, jobs, food and other assistance."  Here is more:

The actions came during what Biden has proclaimed as Second Chance Month, an attempt to put a greater focus on helping those with criminal records rebuild their lives.

The 31 commutations were for people convicted of nonviolent drug crimes, who were currently serving time in home confinement and taking advantage of education and employment opportunities, the White House said. Many would have received a lower sentence if they were charged with the same offense today due to changes in the law, including the First Step Act, a bipartisan criminal justice bill signed into law by President Donald Trump in December 2018.

At a briefing for reporters, Susan Rice, director of the Domestic Policy Council, described the series of measures as prudent steps to improve public safety while safeguarding taxpayer dollars by increasing the chances that people released from prison will have opportunities to live rehabilitated lives.

“As many as one in three Americans have a criminal history record, yet far too many of them face barriers to getting a job or home, obtaining health care or finding the capital to start a business,” Rice said. “By investing in crime prevention and a fairer criminal justice system, we can tackle the root causes of crime, improve individual and community outcomes and ease the burden on police.”

The effort includes more than 100 actions across 20 agencies, ranging from the Department of Education to the Department of Housing and Urban Development to the Bureau of Prisons. Under the changes, people leaving prison could have more access to housing vouchers, Pell grants, food benefits and small business loans, Rice said.

These official docuements from the The White House provide a lot more of the particulars:

FACT SHEET: Biden-⁠Harris Administration Takes Action During Second Chance Month to Strengthen Public Safety, Improve Rehabilitation in Jails and Prisons, and Support Successful Reentry

Clemency Recipient List

The full 77-page White House Alternatives, Rehabilitation, and Reentry Strategic Plan

Both the timing and the subsatnces of these actions seem quite intriguing, though I am going to review the details and reflect a bit before providing any distinctive take. I will thus be content now to just say kudos to Prez Biden, because even modest actions in this arena are always meaningful and important.

April 28, 2023 at 01:02 PM | Permalink


It's a slow start. There were 4 nonviolent marijuana offenders - the majority were for meth.

Posted by: beth curtis | Apr 28, 2023 2:39:52 PM

biden admin maintaining its unblemished record of not actually releasing anyone from prison via clemency.

Posted by: AFPD | Apr 28, 2023 3:46:37 PM

In most places, it is difficult for former felons to re-enter society following their releases from jail and prison. Here in Kentucky, Class D state felons [1 to 5 years sentences] actually serve their time in county jails, not in real prisons with athletic fields and programs. The psychological effects of spending 1 to 5 years in jail can be overwhelming and deeply depressing, leaving inmates ill-prepared for release and re-entry here. In Lexington, Kentucky, about 80% of landlords won't rent to people whose background checks reveal a felony. In recent years, this problem has been partially addressed by privately owned Sober Living halfway houses. Former felons also face much discrimination in seeking employment, but here in Lexington, Jubliee Jobs has forged relationships with many employers, so that thy will hire felons screened and approved by Jubilee Job. That organization also helps felons with resume preparation, coaching on interviewing skills, purchasing appropriate clothes and shoes for job interviews, and transportation to the interviews (or providing bus tokens). Given that 600,000 people per year are released back into society just from Kentucky's county jails, these are important programs, designed to make former felons productive, contributing members of society, rather than setting them up for failure, by turning to stealing or robbery as matters of financial necessity. Nationwide, much more needs to be done.

Posted by: Jim Gormley | Apr 29, 2023 10:16:30 AM

The main reason it's hard for released prisoners to fit back into society is the reason they got sent to prison to begin with -- their attitudes, behavior, and character are not what employers (or neighbors) are looking for. That this fact gets pushed behind the curtain in favor of bashing society for being insufficiently forgiving does not make it any less true.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Apr 30, 2023 11:18:17 AM

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