Commutations

Elizabeth Warren Adopts Cory Booker's Plan for a Better Presidential Clemency System

Shifting the process from the Justice Department to the White House can help eliminate bureaucracy and meddling from prosecutors.

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Sen. Cory Booker (D–N.J.) failed to make much of an impact in his Democratic presidential campaign, but he did have a really good plan to deal with clemency if he were elected. Now Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D–Mass.) is adopting his plan into her own criminal justice reform proposal.

Last summer, Booker proposed making it easier and quicker for nonviolent federal drug offenders to seek clemency by shifting the process from the Department of Justice to the White House and creating a clemency panel to oversee the process. In particular, Booker's plan would reduce the power of federal prosecutors to determine which clemency applications make it to the president's desk and whether they arrive with a recommendation for denial or approval.

Warren is also supporting Booker's plan to prioritize clemency for older inmates incarcerated for longer terms, and his proposal to quickly identify and focus on prisoners who would have benefited retroactively from sentencing changes under the First Step Act and other reforms. This second aspect is important because legislative changes to statutory sentencing practices do not automatically apply to prisoners currently serving time. The Fair Sentencing Act of 2010, which reduced the sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine, is a prime example of a good reform that unfortunately lacked retroactive language.

Warren's updated plan notes:

Research shows that people tend to age out of crime and are substantially less likely to recidivate, but today thousands of elderly people remain behind bars. And those serving sentences equivalent to life in prison are disproportionately black and brown, many serving time for nonviolent crimes or crimes committed as juveniles. We are not any safer as a nation for their incarceration, nor is equal justice being served.

It's a change criminal justice reformers have been recommending for some time and one with bipartisan appeal. President Donald Trump's administration is considering something similar.

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  1. Adopting Booker’s plan? Like the way she adopted her Cherokee ancestry?

  2. Didn’t Trump already do this? How is this Booker’s plan? It is Trump’s actual policy.

    1. I am a little confused by this too. It would be helpful for the author to at least discuss how this is different from what Trump is doing, if it is different at all.

      1. It does link to an entire article devoted to Trump’s plan. It’s not like they’re withholding information. Even when Reason gets something write you guys still find something to bitch about.

        1. “right”

          I pulled a John. Oops.

        2. I don’t usually bitch about reason. I admit that I missed that last sentence. My point was that it would have been nice to have a comparison.

    2. FTA: President Donald Trump’s administration is considering something similar.

      1. Well, that will teach me to read the whole article. I do think it’s worth more than a sentence. A quick comparison of the plans would have been nice.

    3. Yea, didn’t they just write an article bitching about Trump doing exactly this???

      1. Um, no. Quite the opposite. There’s a link to it on the last line of the article in case you want to read it. Then again that would ruin your narrative of how Reason is a leftist rag that hates all things Trump.

        1. Reason is a leftist rag whether or not they criticized Trump for this policy.

          1. And when the political pendulum swings the other way, leftists will be screaming about how it’s a conservative rag.

            It can’t be both.

            1. That would speak to the incompetence of the writers.

              1. Or the incompetence of the readers.

            2. “leftists will be screaming about how it’s a conservative rag.”

              They will do this regardless.

  3. Has Warren come up with a single original idea this campaign season or is it all just apeing what’s popular from her opponents?

    1. So far she’s the only one who has lied about being a minority, that one was pretty original.

  4. And those serving sentences equivalent to life in prison are disproportionately black and brown, many serving time for nonviolent crimes or crimes committed as juveniles. We are not any safer as a nation for their incarceration, nor is equal justice being served.

    I’m willing to be proven wrong, but can anyone point to me a inmate who is serving the equivalent of a life sentence for a non-violent crime that he committed as a juvenile?

    1. You know who’s serving a life-sentence equivalent for non-violent crimes? Bernie Madoff! And I bet he’s not a risk to re-offend, mostly because no one would be stupid enough to invest U$2 with him.

      Should Bernie get clemency?

      1. Zacarias Moussaoui is another non-violent offender (he never hurt anyone) serving a life sentence (or in his case 6 life sentences!)

        1. Robert Hansen never hurt anybody! Time to let him out too!

    2. Dread Pirate Roberts, Ross Ulbricht comes to mind but he was probably around 25-30 when he committed his crime.

    3. can anyone point to me a inmate who is serving the equivalent of a life sentence for a non-violent crime that he committed as a juvenile?

      “many serving time for nonviolent crimes or crimes committed as juveniles”

      I think the implication is “violent crimes committed as juveniles” or “non-violent crimes committed as adults for which a life sentence was given due to Three-Strikes-type laws.”

      But I’m just guessing.

  5. That sucking sound you hear is Elizabeth Warren’t campaign as circling the drain.

    1. “That sucking sound you hear is Elizabeth Warren…”

      I’m glad the rest of that sentence took the turn it did, I just ate.

  6. FACT: None of their good plans come to fruition. (Luckily, not all of their bad schemes are seen all the way through to the end, either.) But we can keep talking about those systemic changes as though they wouldn’t slam straight into the bureaucracy and break into little pieces of status quo.

  7. Booker who ? she is trying to steal Trumps idea

  8. Was she wearing a cardigan when she proposed her plan?

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  10. You read this all the time “black and brown..” I understand “black” is African American but what is “brown”? Native/Indian, Indian (from India), Mexican, Central American Countries, Italian, Arab…..I honestly have no idea

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