This move could result in the release of thousands of low-level federal inmates caught up in the drug war. For a president who, hitherto, had the most conservative pardon record in recent history (e.g. in Obama's first term, he pardoned 1 in 50 applicants, while Ronald Reagan pardoned 1 in 3), such a shift is noteworthy.
As prophets did in the days of abolition, the anti-lynching movement, and the Civil Rights movement, modern-day leaders, like Michelle Alexander, have traversed the country shining light on the myth of equal justice in our justice system. And on Tuesday, the unlikely duo of Sens. Cory Booker and Rand Paul joined together to address this myth by introducing the REDEEM Act.
A black boy born in 2001 has a one in three chance of going to prison in his lifetime and a Latino boy a one in six chance of the same fate. The U.S. has the highest incarceration rate in the world: 7.1 million adult residents -- one in 33 -- are under some form of correctional supervision including prison, jail, probation, or parole. Michelle Alexander writes in her bestselling book The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness that there are more adult African Americans under correctional control today than were enslaved in 1850, a decade before the Civil War began. In 2011, our state and federal prison population exceeded that of the top 35 European nations combined. Something's very wrong with this picture.