Statement from FAMM President Julie Stewart on 42 Obama commutations
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media Contact: Leila McDowell; firstname.lastname@example.org; 202-822-6700
Last month, President Obama granted commutations to 58 prisoners. Today, he granted 42 people commutations. Hopefully, this pattern will continue and the President will grant clemency to hundreds of deserving federal prisoners every month until he leaves office. This exercise of mercy will be the President’s most lasting criminal justice legacy. It also sets an important standard for future presidents to routinize the use of clemency.
Deserving prisoners include not only those serving life in prison without parole but the thousands who are simply serving way too much time for their crimes. People like Paul Fields who was sentenced as a career offender to 15.5 years in prison for growing marijuana. His previous offenses that triggered his “career” status were for possession of marijuana and possession of LSD. Paul’s daughter was six months old when he went to prison; today she is six years old. Paul’s wife and elderly parents anxiously await his return. The American public would not lose sleep if Paul Fields were home with his family.
Among the lifers who have curiously still not received a commutation is Tim Tyler. Tim has served 22 years in prison for selling LSD. As a young man, Tim was one of thousands who became smitten with the lifestyle of Grateful Dead fans – the Deadheads – and followed the band around the country. After two state convictions for selling small amounts of LSD to other Deadheads – resulting in no prison time – Tim was convicted of selling LSD to a confidential informant and sentenced to life in federal prison without parole. He started serving his sentence at age 25. Tim is now 47 years old and is eager to start life over with his sister who has fought for his freedom for more than two decades. And, contrary to the fearmongering offered by some members of Congress, I guarantee that no one in America would be less safe if Tim Tyler is released from prison.
FAMM is the nation’s leading sentencing reform organization. Based in Washington, D.C., the group recently celebrated its 25th anniversary fighting for sentencing reform.