President Bush’s January 19 commutations of former Border Patrol agents Ramos and Compeon should be commended as an act of mercy. The border agents received mandatory minimum sentences that the judge could not tailor to fit them or their crime. However, the border agents are not alone.
As a High School teacher I know that thousands of first-time, low-level, and nonviolent drug offenders are serving sentences just as long or longer. Many of them seek clemency each year, but President Bush granted less than a dozen commutations in his eight years in office.
President Obama should grant many more. In his inaugural address, President Obama promised us government that works. Mandatory minimums don’t. They create injustice, fill our prisons, cost taxpayers a fortune, and don’t reduce crime.
We need to fix these problems at their core and stop allowing our youth to be a product of their environment. Anybody who has ever sold drugs doesn’t do it for fun. Most people’s situation has left them no other choice but crime or starve.
When billionaires can be bailed out and politicians granted presidential pardons, let’s man up and do the right thing. If you don’t believe in prisons that torture terrorists you really should let non violent criminals be retrained and help build our economy.
Granting clemency to some deserving prisoners won’t fix everything, but President Obama should use commutations to begin a dialogue with Congress about how to get rid of mandatory minimums.