By Christopher Zoukis Four former U.S. Navy veterans wrongly convicted of the rape and murder of an 18-year-old woman have been granted full pardons by Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe. Eric Wilson, Danial Williams, Derek Tice and Joseph Dick, Jr., known as the “Norfolk Four,” were arrested for raping and killing Michelle Moore-Bosko in 1997. Based…

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The Obama administration’s “Clemency Initiative 2014,” a highly-touted program designed to grant clemency to non-violent offenders and other federal prisoners, has yet to make a substantial impact on the exploding federal prison population. While some 16 percent of the Federal Bureau of Prisons’ 218,000 prisoners have applied for clemency, less than three dozen prisoners have…

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Stephanie George is serving as a stark reminder that despite recent prison reform announcements, we cannot be complacent, that the struggle for re-integration does not end outside prison walls. George had been given a life sentence for “letting her former boyfriend keep drugs in their Florida home,” and assisted in his facilitation of dealings. While…

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The Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA), 18 U.S.C. § 924(e), mandates sentence enhancements for certain federal defendants who commit crimes with firearms; those who have three or more prior “violent felonies” or “serious” drug offenses face a minimum 15-year prison term. In some cases, however, prior state convictions should not quality as “predicate” offenses for…

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By Christopher Zoukis / BlogCritics.org

On April 23, 2014, Attorney General of the United States, Eric H. Holder, Jr. announced a new initiative intended to encourage appropriate candidates to petition for executive clemency from the President of the United States.

The initiative comes amid public statements by Holder and other top federal officials suggesting President Barrack H. Obama may eventually issue hundreds, if not thousands, of commutations to federal prisoners, mostly for non-violent drug offenders sentenced under now mostly discarded sentencing policies that affected a disproportionate number of minorities.

The April 23, 2014 announcement has prompted the Department of Justice (DOJ), through the Federal Bureau of Prisons, to set forth specific standards for the new initiative, and announces the formation of the Clemency Project 2014, a consortium of defense attorneys and non-profit organizations who have volunteered to assist some candidates for clemency advance their petitions.

The Criteria for Clemency

While the Constitution accords the President the authority to bestow clemency on anyone, the 2014 initiative is targeted at clemency for a specific profile of offenders.  According to a Federal Bureau of Prisons announcement made on May 5, 2014, it invites petitions from “non-violent federal inmates who would not pose a threat to public safety if released.”  The announcement stated that the initiative is limited to inmates who:

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