Election 2020

Cory Booker Proposes Thousands of Drug War Commutations If Elected President

Booker would move the process away from prosecutors and into the White House.


If he wins the White House, Democratic presidential candidate and New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker wants to make it easier for nonviolent federal drug offenders to seek mercy and get their sentences commuted.

President Barack Obama ended his two terms in office having issued more than 1,700 commutations. But it took Obama a long time to do so. More than 500 of those commutations came during his last week in office.

That's partly because the Obama administration put together a burdensome, bureaucratic process that depended on the cooperation and participation of the Department of Justice while also relying on federal prosecutors themselves to show leniency towards the very people they threw in prison. If not for the Obama administration's guidelines, thousands more could have been released before his term ended if the process had been more efficient.

Today, Booker announced that if he is elected president, he would on his very first day in office launch "the most sweeping clemency initiative in more than 150 years," an approach that could impact more than 17,000 nonviolent federal drug prisoners.

According to a piece he posted at Medium, Booker would target three classes of prisoners: People in federal prison for marijuana-related offenses; people who are serving sentences that would have been reduced under the First Step Act passed by President Donald Trump if the act had been retroactive; and anybody still serving time because of sentencing disparities between crack cocaine and powder cocaine convictions.

Booker intends to revise the Obama administration's process, speeding it up by moving much of the work from the Department of Justice to a new Executive Clemency Panel within the White House. The process would therefore no longer be as dependent on prosecutors filtering cases for review. And this new White House panel would also prioritize reviewing the sentences of people over the age of 50.

The Los Angeles Times notes that clemency experts have long wanted to move the process out of the Justice Department:

Criminal justice reformers have advocated moving the clemency review process out of the Justice Department, arguing that the agency has a conflict of interest in evaluating convictions it was responsible for securing.

"Having the Department of Justice do it is having the fox in charge of the hen house," said JaneAnne Murray, a law professor who runs a clemency project at the University of Minnesota.

"Some real thought went into this," Murray said of Booker's plan.

Read Booker's plan for yourself here.

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  1. I see Booker is hoping that the former drug addict demographic is going to put him over the top!

    1. And it will totally make up for all the communism that comes along with a Booker presidency.

  2. Given Booker’s interesting legal theories, can I also expect a refund for the capital gains I overpaid for many years and that hurt my retirement, now that the rates are lower? Or are his do-overs limited to former drug addicts?

    1. Which is more likely to vote for a democrat; someone with capital gains, or a former druggie?

      1. The one less bigoted is more likely to vote for a Democrat.

        1. True, but you also missed the opportunity to remind everyone that #PoorPeopleVoteRepublican.

          1. Hahaa

          2. You also missed the opportunity to say Ron Paul wanted to do it. Since it’s not him their violence and racism come out.

            1. As if any of these conservatives were Ron Paul fans.

          3. Some superstitious slack-jaws are poor. Some bigoted malcontents are wealthy (often by inheritance). What binds Republicans is a mix of intolerance and backwardness.

            1. Huh. You forgot the secret handshake and child sacrifices. By the way, assuming every republican is a bigot is pretty bigoted. But, I guess morons aren’t known for their self-awareness.

              1. Child sacrifice is the provenance of the democrats.

            2. What binds Republicans is a mix of intolerance and backwardness.

              So what’s your excuse, hicklib?

    2. Your retirement pain is, indeed, comparable to being imprisoned for years for no good reason. Great insight!

    3. Why are you on about ‘former drug addicts’?

      Because you don’t go to prison for drug addiction. Your incarceratory status has no correlation with your addiction status.

      Or is it that you just feel like being a nasty asshole and ‘drug addicts’ are a socially acceptable target among your peers and they won’t beat you up for spitting on them?

  3. This makes him easily one of the best candidates right now. He’s got a lot of dumb ideas but his drug war stances are solid.

    1. It would be nice for a better candidate to steal his idea. It’s not patented, after all.

    2. I don’t see why decriminalizing drugs implies that existing sentences should be commuted or why that makes Booker a good candidate.

      1. because existing sentences are terrible and unfair?

      2. existing sentences for possession of horticulture should be commuted.

      3. Ask a libertarian (or even someone who is libertarianish), you half-educated, stale-thinking, authoritarian, right-wing rube.

          1. I’m not here to be asked for advice. I am here to observe my preferences be vindicated in the culture war against the wishes and efforts of conservatives. It is going very well.

            1. You’re here to troll.

            2. Ew. Go jerk off somewhere else dude.

      4. Shorter JW – “I don’t see why the Emancipation Proclamation should mean all these current slaves go free. I mean, they were enslaved all legal like.”

      5. Because existing sentences has created an underclass of people with no access to the legitimate economy, thus creating a large subset of career criminals which indirectly cause several other problems such as the militarization of police, intensification of racial tension and violence along our southern border?

    3. Well yes and no.

      It’s great that he wants to commute prison sentences for people smoking plants.

      But it’s not so great that he wants to turn the clemency process into basically a forum where prisoners beg for forgiveness from the Emperor President.

      1. That’s what it is now. That’s what its always been.

        1. So that’s what it always has to be?

          Don’t be silly.

    4. If Booker’s drug war stance is so solid, why hasn’t he introduced a bill decriminalizing drug use, including retroactively applying it? Trump already has about 3,000 on his list for clemency/pardons, while Booker promises to provide clemency to 17,000+ he says.

      His plan, just changes the clemency process, and does nothing legislatively. So those people can get arrested again for using drugs again. Sounds like a plan that benefits politicians and government employees, not non-violent drug users.

      1. For two of the three groups, Booker proposes to reduce their sentences to what they would be under _current_ laws. For the third group, federal marijuana offenses, he is anticipating what the law will be whenever Congress stops ignoring the majority of their voters.

  4. Republicans suck on social issues. I do believe the states where marijuana is being legalized are all controlled by Democrats. A good enough reason to vote blue.

    1. Gun control is a social issue.

      As are mandatory cake-baking and flower-arranging.

      1. They can have my cakes when they take them partially digested from my dead body

        1. “The guns debate is a culture war. And young people will win it

          “Jessica Valenti

          “This is a fight between a young, diverse, feminist generation against an old, white, male minority desperate to hang on to power…

          “Just 3% of Americans own half of the guns in America. And that 3% isn’t just anyone. According to a Harvard study flagged by Scientific American this month, the person most likely to stockpile guns in this country is an older, white man from a rural conservative area. And an alarming body of research shows that they’re motivated by racial anxiety and a fear of emasculation….

          “But while issues of race and gender confound and alarm those on the right, young activists are doing nuanced thinking to bolster their work on gun violence. This generation is calling out the hypocrisy of conservatives who abhor government interference unless it’s over women’s bodies, talking about how arming teachers would endanger students of color, and recognizing how white students are getting the support that young Black Lives Matter activists never did. Perhaps the brightest star of this weekend’s march was 11-year-old Naomi Wadler, who dedicated her speech to black girls and women who were victims of gun violence who in the past “have just been numbers”….

          “I, for one, am ready to take my cues from this smart new America for whom creating change comes so easily.”

          1. What’s that you say? You want more wisdom from the youth of early 2018, courtesy of Jessica Valenti?

            “Young activists raised on social media and memes were bound to come up with the best protest signs. At the March for Our Lives, and the national school walkout earlier this month, teenagers held posters blasting politicians and declaring, “I should be writing my college essay, not my will.” Some were hilarious, many were sad, and all were designed to go viral.

            “The one that I can’t get out of my mind, though, was held by a teenage Pakistani immigrant in New York’s Union Square: “Girls’ clothing in school is more regulated than guns in America.””

            1. “”Girls’ clothing in school is more regulated than guns in America.””””

              Really? That’s a pretty uneducated statement.

          2. It’ll be interesting to see how President AOC justifies telling thousands of cops to raid the homes of black neighborhoods to disarm the most oppressed among us.

      2. As is 99% of our lives impacted by The Green New Deal

    2. While I certainly believe drugs ought to be decriminalized, I don’t see that as a very important social issue. Most drug use is recreational and much of it is harmful. While I think people ought to have the right to harm themselves in any way they want, making that legal isn’t a pressing issue for me. Furthermore, given that people who make the bad choice of using recreational drugs under current law have the costly consequences of their choices subsidized by other tax payers, other tax payers have a right to interfere in those consequences, including locking those people up. Stop aggressing against me using the state, and I’ll stop aggressing against you using the state.

      1. people who make the bad choice of using recreational drugs under current law have the costly consequences of their choices subsidized by other tax payers

        You mean prison?

      2. It is fortunate that American society has been rejecting your preferences throughout our lifetimes, and that your political positions will likely be stomped by your betters until the day you are replaced by a better, younger American in our electorate.

        Until that day . . . carry on, clinger.

      3. sooo.. yeah you’re a drug warrior. got it.

      4. Is this Ken’s sock puppet? Sounds like Ken on a racism thread. Pompous, windbagish, but also passive aggressive if they don’t get their way.

      5. You don’t see 40 years of deliberate attempts to destroy civil liberties to be a social issue?

        You don’t see the deliberate destruction of other societies in our pursuit for the sober utopia always just one more murder out of reach to be a social issue?

        1. This x1000

      6. So, you’re a violent person, noted for any future conversations we have.

    3. Association, sure, but not necessarily causal in that direction. I think it runs the opposite way: that people interested in marijuana are more likely to vote for Democrats. Adding to their vote total won’t help things if that’s the way cause and effect run.

    4. “Totalitarianism is a fair price to pay for drugs”

    5. Provided that your ONLY determination of freedom is “can I smoke weed?”

      If it is, mind you, then you are a fucking moron.

    6. “Republicans suck on social issues. I do believe the states where marijuana is being legalized are all controlled by Democrats. A good enough reason to vote blue.”

      I disagree. It’s mostly Democrats who’re pushing asset forfeiture laws. Second, most of the country has made pot legal for medical use (see the Wikipedia article), so it’s not just Democrats legalizing it. Third, a majority of GOP voters in a 2017 poll supported decriminalizing pot. Fourth, it was Obama’s administration that pushed against legal pot, by threatening banks doing business with pot companies.

      And regarding “social issues”, it seems to be the GOP defending freedom of speech, freedom of association, and freedom of the press (Trump has disparaged the press but has done nothing to inhibit their freedom of speech). And how about the social issue of freedom to do business, including hiring who you want, without the government telling you how? It’s Democrats telling the social media companies to censor.

  5. Glad to see this is becoming a main stream issue

  6. Booker has no chance of winning a debate much less the primary.

    1. Perhaps he will be an effective member of the cabinet, curbing drug warriors and other obsolete faux libertarians.

      1. You’re still not dead? *rereads instructions that came with voodoo doll*

      2. Funny that – all the previous Presidents loaded their cabinets with people ideologically similar to them. Yet somehow you think the next one might put someone in who would challenge them.

  7. Why all the bureaucratic run around?
    Just get a list of prisoners, and staple it to a generic pardon.
    More socialist if it is not done individual by individual, right?

    1. What would be really socialist would be stamping the list “To Be Shot.”

      1. Uncle Joe approves this message.

  8. With this news, and with his leadership on the crucial issue of reparations for slavery, Booker is moving up my 2020 Democratic rankings. Of course, Harris and Warren are still my top 2.

    1. #TBone4Veep

    2. Reparations for past victims of prohibitionist drug laws would be less racially collectivist at face value, yet bring proportional relief to ethnic collectives routinely targeted by nationalsocialist politicians of both the Republican and Dixiecrat persuasions. The funds could come out of money allocated for the bombing of non-christians on the other side of the planet. This is win-win winning in the best libertarian style.

  9. The future of the Democrat party is all of the recreational drugs you want and none of the useful drugs you need.

    1. Not even; what’s their future for nicotine?

      1. Smoking any substance should not be allowed anywhere.

        1. Oh, and products with no tobacco should obviously be regulated like tobacco products.

  10. Booker would move the process away from prosecutors and into the White House.

    These words… they seem highly contextual.

  11. +1 Spartacus

  12. “Cory Booker Proposes Thousands of Drug War Commutations If Elected President”

    Well, maybe he needs to make room for all those people he wants to throw in jail for being on the wrong side in the fight against climate change.

    Here he is comparing the opponents of the Green New Deal to the Nazis:

    “When the planet has been in peril in the past, who came forward to save Earth from the scourge of Nazism and totalitarian regimes? We came forward!”

    —-Cory Booker

    “Cory Booker: Green New Deal Is “Bold,” Like Defeating The Nazis Or Going To The Moon”


    Am I reading that wrong? Somebody tell me if I’m reading that wrong.

    Regardless, he lost me at support for the Green New Deal. Suck my dick, Cory Booker, you socialist scumbag!

    1. Well, maybe he needs to make room for all those people he wants to throw in jail for being on the wrong side in the fight against climate change.

      Wait. Cory Booker wants to throw people in jail for being skeptical of anthropomorphic climate change?

      Do you have a link for that claim?

    2. Don’t forget all the people he wants to throw in jail because they own a gun.

  13. Thats cool, thumbs up for Cory Booker. Now lets talk about all the other stuff he wants to do, which is straight out of the communist manifesto. Maybe thats just a little nit-picky

    1. “straight out of the communist manifesto”


      1. At least his platform doesn’t include specifically importing illegals who rape small children. Which is undoubtedly a huge disappointment t you.

    2. Lemme guess… ban electric power plants and freon because misanthropic global warming and penguins? Keep the progressive income tax and add a carbon tax?

  14. Pfft! If it’s not pardons for every drug crime ever it’s not ????.

  15. It’s not a horrible idea. Trump should initiate it immediately. Could you imagine the cognitive dissonance that would cause?

    1. “Trump Paves Way for Pardoning Manafort, Self”

      1. Nice.

  16. “And an alarming body of research shows that they’re motivated by racial anxiety and a fear of emasculation….”
    Finally, an explanation of why young black men are shooting each other at an alarmingly high rate in Philly, Chicago, Detroit, Bawlimore, and other cities?

    1. You must be a tiny-dick white racist gun-hoarding clinger.

      Your racism is so powerful it radiates out and causes gun violence by proxy.

      At least have the decency to wrap your head in tin foil so those racism waves don’t go out and mess with people.

  17. Cory Booker Proposes Thousands of Drug War Commutations If Elected President

    Cory Booker wants to make it easier for nonviolent federal drug offenders to seek mercy and get their sentences commuted.

    So, not actually that then. Shac – have a talk with whichever sub wrote your headline and tell them they’re supposed to read the article first.

    In any case, the likelyhood of Booker actually doing any of this is about on par with Trump getting Mexico to pay for the wall.

    1. Couldn’t Booker move to have it rescheduled NOW?

      1. He could write a bill. Mitch McConnell will see it never even gets a fair hearing before a committee, let alone to a vote on the Senate floor. And before you go blaming Republicans, try to have your Congressperson get a similar bill past Nancy Pelosi.

        I thought we’d have to wait for enough old voters to die to begin reforming the drug laws. I was optimistic – NOW we’re waiting for enough of the old politicians to die…

        What’s that? How about we kick them out of office? After 40-some years of campaign finance laws, incumbents are almost always re-elected. It’s like they wrote those laws solely to protect themselves…

  18. We have to legalize drugs because prohibition doesn’t work, but we have to ban guns because prohibition does work. Book likes to gloat that Biden can’t sniff his hair unless he pulls his pants down.

  19. So at least one Dem has enough appreciation of the Libertarian spoiler votes hockey-stick to read the platform. I also recall that prosecutor Mabel Willebrandt changed the overall slope of stock prices at Aug-Sept 1929. She argued in a nationally syndicated series for transfer of prohibition enforcement from Treasury to the DOJ. This was the same prosecutor who in 1927 eliminated 5th Amendment protection from self-incrimination on individual income tax returns. History is beginning to rhyme after the asset-forfeiture crash and flash crashes.

  20. That’s nothing. You should have seen what was promised along with this horse that the Greeks offered to Troy!

  21. How many low level drug offences are at the federal level?

  22. Just re-legalize them all!


    Including “prescription drugs”.



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