Biden to grant clemency to 78 people, announce reinstatement initiatives to mark ‘second chance month’

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“America is a nation of laws and second chances, of redemption and rehabilitation. Elected officials on both sides of the aisle, religious leaders, civil rights advocates and law enforcement officials agree that our criminal justice system can and should reflect these core values ​​that enable safer and stronger communities,” Biden wrote in a statement shared with CNN on Monday.

“During Second Chance Month, I use my authority under the Constitution to uphold these values ​​by pardoning and commuting the sentences of my fellow Americans,” he continued.

Among those Biden will pardon is Abraham W. Bolden Sr., an 86-year-old former Secret Service agent and the first African American to serve in a presidential detail, according to a White House fact sheet. Bolden was found guilty of charges related to attempting to sell a copy of a Secret Service file, although prosecution witnesses later admitted to lying when asked by prosecutors. According to the fact sheet, Bolden contends that he ultimately “was the target of retaliatory lawsuits for exposing unprofessional and racist behavior within the U.S. Secret Service.”

Biden will also pardon Betty Jo Bogans, 51, of Houston and Dexter Eugene Jackson, 52, of Athens, Georgia, for nonviolent drug offenses, and commute the sentences of 75 nonviolent drug offenders — a decision a senior administration official told reporters. “Reflects the President’s broader commitment to reforming our justice system and addressing racial disparities.”

“The president believes there are too many people serving unduly long sentences for non-violent drug crimes, a disproportionate number of whom are black and brown, the official said Monday. “The President also pledged to use his power of clemency to provide relief to people serving long sentences that they could no longer receive today, due to changes in the law, including the First Step Act. , which reduced mandatory minimum sentences for certain non-violent drug offenses.”

Then-President Donald Trump was the first US president to observe Second Chance Month in 2018, following a bipartisan congressional resolution. A proclamation from Trump said that during the month of April, the United States would stress the need “to offer people with criminal records the opportunity to earn an honest second chance.”
The First Step Act, which marked a rare bipartisan achievement under Trump, allowed early release for nonviolent offenders, relaxed mandatory minimum sentences and offered judges flexibility in sentencing.

New initiatives to facilitate back-to-school

Along with Monday’s announcement, the Biden administration will also unveil “a comprehensive strategy that extends incarceration to employment opportunities,” including new programs from the Department of Justice, Department of Labor, Small Business Administration, the Bureau of Personnel Management, the Department of Transportation, Veterans Affairs, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, the Department of Education, and the Department of Commerce.

To facilitate reintegration efforts for formerly incarcerated, the Departments of Justice and Labor will allocate $145 million in funding over the next two years “to provide job training and individualized employment and reintegration plans for those incarcerated at the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) and to provide pathways for a smooth transition to employment and post-release reintegration support,” according to a White House fact sheet.

In addition, the administration will tout $140 million in grants for job training and re-entry programs and order agencies to remove barriers to entry for formerly incarcerated people to receive federal funding, apply for jobs and participate. to training programs.

Tuesday’s measures will not replace efforts to craft an executive order to overhaul criminal justice, a second official told reporters on Monday, which is still in the works. Bipartisan efforts to push through comprehensive police reform collapsed last September due to a number of disagreements, including over qualified immunity.

“While today’s announcement marks significant progress, my administration will continue to review clemency applications and propose reforms that advance fairness and justice, provide second chances, and improve welfare. being and the safety of all Americans,” Biden said in a statement.

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