As someone who received executive clemency from the governor of New York in 1997, I know personally the power of such an extraordinary act of mercy to people who have already served enormous amounts of time imprisoned under unjust drug laws.
Today the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee passed bipartisan sentencing reform legislation that reduces the federal prison population, decreases racial disparities, saves taxpayer money, and reunites nonviolent drug law offenders with their families sooner.
With a very heavy heart, as a mother and advocate for drug policy reform, I wish other mothers and fathers who are victims of the drug war a "happy" holidays -- but can one truly have a "happy" holidays when there's an empty chair at the family table?
Attorney General Eric Holder's speech to the American Bar Association last Monday announcing critical reforms to the way the Department of Justice prosecutes and addresses drug crimes was historic and long overdue.
If the federal government recognizes that mandatory minimums are likely inappropriate sentences for nonviolent offenders, perhaps the states will follow suit, developing diversion programs, prison alternatives, and reasonable means for re-entry.