Today (April 26), President Joe Biden used his sweeping clemency powers for the first time in his presidency. The announcement included the commutations of 75 sentences of nonviolent drug offenders, also issuing full pardons for three individuals who the administration says have worked toward rehabilitation. The action is a part of the Biden administration’s “broad commitment” to addressing racial disparities reforming the justice system.
“Today, I am pardoning three people who have demonstrated their commitment to rehabilitation and are striving every day to give back and contribute to their communities,” the president said. He added that he is commuting the sentences of those 75 people who are serving “long sentences for non-violent drug offenses, many of whom have been serving on home confinement during the COVIDpandemic [sic]—and many of whom would have received a lower sentence if they were charged with the same offense today, thanks to the bipartisan First Step Act.”
An official also spoke on the disparity between races and sentences served. “The President believes that there (are) too many people serving unduly long sentences for nonviolent drug crimes, a disproportionate number of whom are Black and brown,” the official said.
“America is a nation of laws and second chances, redemption, and rehabilitation. Elected officials on both sides of the aisle, faith leaders, civil rights advocates, and law enforcement leaders 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.
In addition to the announcement, the Biden administration will also unveil “a comprehensive strategy that expands Incarceration to Employment opportunities.” This initiative is said to include new programs from the Department of Justice, the Department of Labor, the Small Business Administration, the Office of Personnel Management, the Department of Transportation, Veterans Affairs, and more.