An influx of applications from prisoners slowed down Obama's initiative which granted clemency or leniency towards nonviolent offenders. This resulted in requiring an influx of pro bono lawyers to help sort through the complicated review process. This initiative, The Clemency Project, was introduced about a year ago to help prison inmates serving sentences for nonviolent crimes by handing them a less severe punishment. There is a set of criteria to see if the inmates are eligible for a shorter sentence such as the requirement that an inmate has been behind bars for 10 years. The broad goal of this initiative is to reduce the prison population by turning back the use of harsh sentences for crimes involving drugs. By reducing the prison population, which has increased by about 210,000 inmates, it has costed taxpayers about $6.5 billion annually. So far, Obama has shortened the sentence for 8 inmates, all on long drug sentences.
Considering that taxpayers pay up to $6.5 billion annually for the federal prison population, about 25% of the Justice Department's budget, I feel that Obama's initiative would be quite helpful. The money However, the fact that only 8 out of 25,000 inmate applications were given shorter sentences casts doubt on how effective the initiative will be. In fact, applications must be reviewed by the Justice Department before recommendations are sent to the White House, thus slowing down the review process.
Do the economic benefits from the Clemency Project outweigh the potential costs?
Where is the line drawn to where the reduced sentences of these inmates threaten our national security?
How effective do you think the initiative will be in a few years?
Do you think this initiative might have some negative outcomes? If so, what are they?
What kind of alternatives are there in order to reduce the federal prison population?