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Biden grants pardon to 16 non-violent drug offenders

Washington — President Biden on Wednesday granted clemency to 16 people convicted of nonviolent drug offenses, pardoning 11 of them and commuting the sentences of the other five.

Among the pardon recipients are a woman who has since earned her doctorate, a business owner and community members involved in their churches, while one of the sentence commutation recipients will no longer have to serve a life prison sentence.

In December, the president obtained a categorical pardon to thousands of people convicted of use and simple possession of marijuana in Washington, DC and on federal lands.

Clemency is the broad term that encompasses both pardons – forgiveness of legal consequences arising from a conviction – and commutations, which reduce prison sentences or eliminate other punishments.

“America is a nation founded on the promise of second chances,” the president said in a written statement. “During Second Chance Month, we reaffirm our commitment to the rehabilitation and reintegration of people returning to their communities after incarceration. We also reaffirm our commitment to building a criminal justice system that lives up to these ideals and ensures that everyone receives equal justice under the law. why I’m announcing today the steps I’m taking to make that promise a reality.”

Mr. Biden said his administration “will continue to review clemency requests and implement reforms in ways that promote equal justice, support rehabilitation and reentry, and provide meaningful second chances.” .

One of the people Mr. Biden pardoned Wednesday is Katrina Polk, a 54-year-old Washington, D.C., resident who pleaded guilty to a nonviolent drug offense when she was 18 years old. Since his release, Polk has earned his doctorate in public policy and administration. , and she now advocates for the interests of older people, the White House said.

Another pardon recipient is Jason Hernandez of McKinney, Texas, a 47-year-old man convicted of several nonviolent drug offenses dating back to his childhood. The White House said that under current laws he would have received a significantly shorter sentence. He now runs a nonprofit that transformed the store he sold drugs out of. The organization provides quality, affordable food to its neighborhood.

Alexis Sutton, a 33-year-old woman from New Haven, Connecticut, was also pardoned for her non-violent drug offense. She is taking classes to achieve her goal of becoming a registered nurse and is actively involved in her local church, the White House said.

The president also reduced the sentences of five people convicted of cocaine-related offenses.

In 2013, Jophaney Hyppolite of Miami was sentenced to life in prison and 10 years of supervised release for charges related to manufacturing cocaine base. The president lowered that sentence to 30 years, keeping in place the sentence of 10 years of supervised release.

Presidents often wait until their terms end to issue a series of pardons or more controversial acts of clemency.

The Biden administration has expressed a desire to make consequences for nonviolent drug offenses more racially equitable, recognizing disparities among minority and particularly Black communities.

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